Mixed reports on the Homes for Ukraine scheme
The Government’s Homes for Ukraine project is running into difficulties, despite positive aspects such as allowing refugees to work and claim some benefits, although housing benefit is excluded.
While some Ukrainians are already settling happily with their hosts, others are now at risk of exploitation and trafficking, thanks to a system allowing refugees and potential hosts to link informally on social media like Facebook.
The Government is now apparently seeking new homes for at least 600 Ukrainians whose placements have broken down. Some refugees have been told to leave with only a day’s notice.
The Daily Mail reports refugee charities’ concerns that sponsors have underestimated the commitment and costs of sharing their homes for six months. Local councils are then tasked with finding alternative accommodation.
However, in some areas, volunteer groups are forming to support those who are providing housing for Ukrainians.
One concern for refugee women is the lack of affordable childcare while they work. At home in the Ukraine, they are used to far more generous provision for working parents.
School places for Ukrainian children
Sponsors also report some difficulties in finding local school places for Ukrainian children, particularly in areas where schools are already over-subscribed. The problem appears to be more acute for primary age students, as class sizes are more rigorously controlled for younger pupils.
According to the TES, Nadim Zahawi, the education secretary, has told councils that schools should exceed maximum class sizes to accommodate Ukrainian children. Where necessary, they should also be entitled to places in schools outside the catchment area where they live. In a recent letter, Zahawi commented that it was “vital” for children to attend school as soon as possible, if they were to “integrate” successfully.
The education secretary has also previously said that the Department for Education would examine the possibility of fast -tracking Ukrainian teachers to work in this country.
Meanwhile, the Oak National Academy has promised to produce translated versions of its lessons in Ukrainian and Russian for newly arrived pupils.