In charts: how Brits felt about hosting Ukrainian refugees

Most sponsors said they would be willing to accommodate those fleeing the war for more than six months

Homes for Ukraine allows Ukrainian citizens and their family members to come to the UK if they had a named sponsor. SOPA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Nearly a quarter of people in the UK registered as sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme say they will provide accommodation to those fleeing the war for more than a year if needed.

Nearly six months on from the scheme's launch, the Office for National Statistics has carried out its first survey of such sponsors, sending questions to all those who registered to better understand their experiences and intentions.

More than 43,000 people responded, a 41 per cent response rate among overall registered sponsors.

Length of time sponsors willing to host

A fifth said they were happy to host Ukrainians for six months, the minimum length of time that people were asked to offer accommodation under the scheme.

Three quarters of respondents said they would be willing to accommodate Ukrainians for more than six months.

Twenty-three per cent of sponsors said they would host Ukrainians for more than a year if needed.

In March, the British government launched the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as Homes for Ukraine, which allowed Ukrainian citizens and their family members to come to the UK if they had a named sponsor who could provide suitable accommodation.

Volunteers who host Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion receive £350 ($428) a month per family as a “thank you”, provided they do not charge rent. However, hosts can ask for a reasonable contribution for food, water, gas or electricity.

Hosts have already raised concerns that this government money is not going far enough in covering energy and food bills, particularly amid soaring prices.

Bearing in mind a nationwide housing shortage and with 9,500 Afghan refugees yet to be permanently settled, refugee charities have been sounding the alarm over the availability of long-term accommodation for Ukrainians once their initial time with a host ends.

In June, the Home Office revealed that almost 500 families and 200 single households had been made homeless after hosting arrangements, including those with family members, had broken down.

Ukrainians arriving on a family visa sponsorship scheme do not get government funding.

Enver Solomon from the Refugee Council has said that both schemes “need sufficient attention and support to ensure they are fit for purpose to protect refugees”.

Tim Gibbs from the ONS said the responses were “useful” and showed a lot of “generosity and goodwill” from hosts, but he added that more support was needed.

“We see a lot of generosity and goodwill in what hosts report doing for their guests. The majority are still hosting and many indicate a willingness to host beyond the initial six months.

“However, we also see the additional work and expense involved in hosting, with some saying more or ongoing support would be welcomed.”

Cost of living crisis affecting hosts' ability to support

According to the survey findings, nearly one in 10 of current or previous sponsors said the rising cost of living “very much” affected their ability to provide support. A further 21 per cent said it affected them “quite a lot”.

Almost all hosts said they regularly provided some form of support beyond accommodation, including showing guests around their new surroundings, helping them settle into the community and taking them to appointments.

Challenges in hosting revealed

The biggest challenges hosts reported facing was helping their guests apply for benefits, accessing public services and opening bank accounts.

All sponsors were asked what help they thought would be useful for sponsors or hosts. Nearly 60 per cent said that tips and advice about providing support would be useful and half the respondents said they thought more information about Ukraine and Ukrainian culture would be welcome.

Nearly 40 per cent said more support for being a sponsor would encourage them to host for longer.

Updated: August 10, 2022, 3:40 PM