Homes for Ukraine – Report Summary

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Author: Committee of Public Accounts

Related inquiry: Homes for Ukraine

Date Published: 23 February 2024

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Summary

The Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) and the Home Office successfully set up the Homes for Ukraine scheme at pace, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, to provide much needed support for those seeking refuge from the war. By January 2024, people from across the UK had welcomed 141,200 Ukrainians into their own homes. However, as the conflict continues into its third year, key risks to the scheme’s future are emerging.

The Government has not yet made some urgent decisions on the future of the scheme, such as whether it will extend the three-year visas granted to Ukrainian guests arriving in the UK. We are very concerned that as a result of their current visas being due to expire within a year, the first guests who arrived in the UK in March 2022 are facing too much uncertainty and finding it more difficult to secure private rented accommodation or a job. DLUHC is also yet to set out a timetable for what it will do when its contract with Palantir for the scheme’s main data platform expires in September 2024. We are also concerned to hear of the growing number of Ukrainians at risk of homelessness in the UK, as hosting arrangements end or have broken down.

After a slow start, the Home Office’s visa processing times under the scheme improved in the early months but are now too long again. This delay, combined with the need to have enough sponsors to meet demand, presents challenges which could get worse if the conflict in Ukraine escalates and there is a surge in applications to come to the UK.

The Government has spent over £2 billion on the scheme so far and announced in November 2023 that it was extending payments for sponsors for another year and providing a further £120 million funding to prevent homelessness. However, DLUHC made these decisions without a proper understanding of how effective funding has been in supporting Ukrainians at the local level. DLUHC has not yet evaluated the scheme to learn lessons for future resettlement schemes or to demonstrate its value for money. Despite recognising the need for such an evaluation, DLUHC has not said when it plans to do this.