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MINISTERS are running out of time to decide whether to extend Ukrainian refugees’ visas and local authority funding for sponsorship schemes as a rising number of people are at risk of becoming homeless, the public spending watchdog has warned.
According to a National Audit Office (NAO) report published yesterday, the future of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which facilitated the arrival of 134,700 Ukrainians in Britain between March 18 2022 and October 9, is “not yet clear.”
NAO comptroller and auditor general Gareth Davies said: “The government will soon need to take important decisions about the future of the scheme, including whether to extend visas beyond three years and whether to extend funding for local authorities and sponsors, which currently finishes before visas expire.
“It will also need to carefully monitor key risks, such as safeguarding and the threat of homelessness as sponsorships end.”
By the end of August, local authorities had reported to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that 4,890 households on Homes for Ukraine visas in England had become homeless or were at risk of it.
Roughly 600 to 800 Ukrainian households have been living in temporary accommodation at any one time in England since the start of this year, the report says, warning: “As more sponsorship arrangements come to an end, the risk of homelessness is likely to increase.”
Public accounts committee chairwoman Meg Hillier said the NAO probe showed that more must be done to ensure Ukrainians receive the support they need and to prevent rising numbers becoming homeless.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said it had a “huge concern“ about funding and “serious concerns around the growing number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless.”
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