A government minister is asking the treasury for more funding support to be given to households hosting Ukrainian refugees.

Lord Richard Harrington, Minister for Refugees, visited Southwold Community Centre in Bicester today (Monday, August 15) to meet with leader of Cherwell District Council, Councillor Barry Wood.

The Minister met some of the Ukrainian and Afghan refugees the council has helped welcome to north Oxfordshire and heard how partnership working is fundamental to the success of resettlement work at the local level.

The Minister also heard about the significant challenges both the supporting organisations and Ukrainian families face as their initial six-month sponsorship arrangements with their UK hosts come to an end.  

In addition, they talked about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting the ability of host families to support their Ukrainian guests – after a recent survey found 26% of the 17,000 sponsors who responded felt they needed more financial support on top of the government’s £350 per month ‘thank you’ fund.

Lord Harrington said: “I am working with the treasury to try and ensure that we can increase the funding we offer to sponsor families.

“I can not say anything for certain yet, but that is what I aim to do.

“As for what happens with Ukrainian refugees after their 6-month hosting period comes to an end; some are looking for work and will move into private rented properties, and some will be rematched with other host families.

“Responsibility for this is with the local councils.”

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Mr Wood said: “I am so very proud of all the people in Cherwell who have offered to house those feeling the war in Ukraine.

“It’s a real display of humanity, and a reflection of the depth of human sympathy.

“It’s also an incredibly complicated project. The issue that arises with rematching Ukrainian families with another host family after their initial 6-month stay, is found mostly in location.

“If a refugee family is living in Bicester, and has sent their children to school in Bicester, what do they then do if the closest host family to rematch them with live in Banbury?

“We also need to find out how many host families in the district don’t want to continue past the minimum sponsorship term.

“I’m sure some Ukrainians will go into work and begin private renting, but this also highlights the need for more affordable rent in Cherwell.

“I support Lord Harrington’s efforts to secure further funding for host families.”

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched by the government on March 14, 2022.

The scheme allows people living in the UK to sponsor a named Ukrainian national or family to come to live in the UK with them, providing they have suitable accommodation to offer.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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