Homes for Ukraine host calls for clarity on future of scheme

A writer who has hosted four Ukrainian women has called on the Government to provide more “clarity” to hosts on the future of the Homes for Ukraine scheme and “dramatically increase” their monthly payment, amid concerns that more Ukrainians may end up homeless.

The future of the Homes for Ukraine scheme appears uncertain, with groups including the Refugee Council expressing concerns about the scheme potentially being phased out, while the Local Government Association (LGA) said it is “deeply concerned” about the growing number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless to councils.

Jane Finlay, who shares her time between south-west London and Cornwall, went to the Ukrainian border to collect the four Ukrainians she and her retired partner, 63, were to host in March as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

They arrived in the UK with them on April 1 after the two sisters in law and their two daughters fled Kyiv, Ukraine.

Jane Finlay meeting the Ukrainian family at the Ukrainian border in March (Jane Finlay/PA)

Hosts currently receive a £350 a month “thank you” payment, with Lord Richard Harrington lobbying for this to be doubled before standing down as refugees minister in September.

However, Ms Finlay said the way that payments were given to host families was “badly handled”.

“This amount was never per person. We have four people, so we have £350 from the council,” the 56-year-old told the PA news agency.

“Somebody might have one person – they have £350.

“Cornwall council are definitely trying to redress this – but it shouldn’t be a local council initiative.”

At a time when the cost of living continues to rise, Ms Finlay said that while she is in an “incredibly fortunate” position where the payment has not been a “deciding factor” for her, the most pressing thing that needs to be done so that others can afford to continue hosting Ukrainians is for the payment to be increased.

“By increasing the payment dramatically, (Ukrainians) will be able to stay where they are,” she said.

“But don’t just increase the payment, tell us how long that’s going to be increased for – commit to the duration of the war, commit to three years for their right to stay, make a commitment that people can work within.”

Ms Finlay added that the Government has “done little” to help Ukrainians, “it is the people of the UK who have done something”.

She said: “The Government has taken credit when it’s gone well and they will not take the blame when people can no longer afford to continue helping.

“People signed up for six months – they thought, we’ll give them refuge for six months because that’s what we can do, and people who can no longer afford to do that should not be vilified, but at the same time Ukrainians should not be pushed from pillar to post.”

Ms Finlay added that she knew of a Ukrainian family who had to leave their host’s home because “the relationship broke down” and “the family said that was more traumatic than actually leaving Ukraine when they were being bombed”.

She has called for more clarity on what will happen with the scheme.

Ms Finlay said: “There is no real sense of communication. I have had no communication from the Government about the scheme ending. If the scheme is abandoned, what will happen to (Ukrainians’) rights to stay?

Woman with her head to the sideJane Finlay said people should not be vilified if they can no longer afford to look after the Ukrainians they have chosen to host (Jane Finlay/PA)

“Their right to stay was supposed to be three years but was it three years from the scheme starting or three years from them entering the UK because there’s no clarity on that.

“It’s just a phenomenally badly organised situation – there was no matching of people properly and to abandon the people now, it’s just unbelievable.”

She added that plans need to be put in place now to look at housing stock and help Ukrainians who want independence to be able to afford to rent.

“A database of landlords prepared to rent to refugees with no deposit would be a start – or perhaps the Government would pay the deposit or stand as guarantor for their rent,” Ms Finlay said.

“In my experience Ukrainians want independence, they want these things. The wonderful women we took in have become an important part of my family’s life and we have a connection forever, but they also want to stand on their own two feet.”

The Ukrainian women have also organised a crowdfunder to help support Ukrainian businesses through making “distinctly” Ukrainian products, which can be accessed at

A Government spokeswoman said: “The Homes for Ukraine scheme will continue as the UK Government and British people continue to go above and beyond to support those fleeing war.

“All arrivals have access to benefits and employment from day one.

“The majority of sponsors want to continue hosting for longer than six months. Where guests do move on they have a number of options, including renting or finding a new sponsor.”

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