Homes for Ukraine: lack of planning risks “squandering the kindness and goodwill of British people”

Published 7 December 2022 / By COMPAS Communications

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The rapid mobilisation of the Homes for Ukraine scheme was an extraordinary demonstration of the British people’s capacity to provide direct care and support for people fleeing conflict, and could be a blueprint for the future – but a new report from the University of Oxford’s Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity (GEM) shows that poor long-term planning is putting it at risk.   

Local authorities and community groups have massively increased the scale of community-led welcome through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, utilising up-front government investment and significant community goodwill. However, as we move toward the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainians who have been supported by the scheme face an uncertain future, with local authorities unable to provide clear answers about what happens next.   

Report author, Jacqueline Broadhead, Director of the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity (GEM) at the University of Oxford, said: “Homes for Ukraine marks a significant step change in resettlement and community sponsorship – hugely increasing the numbers of hosts involved in this type of welcoming. It has provided incredible evidence of the warmth and welcoming approach of people in Britain, but a lack of long-term planning risks squandering that.   

“Local authorities have had to develop new provision on a crisis footing, but now we need a long-term plan. Funding a new permanent role for local authorities in supporting newcomers will allow for more sustainable support, and clarity for both those who arrive and their hosts.”   

A key problem is that the system remains focused on immediate arrival challenges, with little opportunity to plan for longer-term integration challenges in particular in relation to housing, employment, language skills, health and wellbeing.    

The new briefing Homes for Ukraine: Building an infrastructure for Community Led Welcome in the UK draws on learning from local authorities to identify immediate challenges, including:   

  • training for hosts    
  • reform to the funding formula, which provides support per arrival, inhibiting planning    
  • improved guidance in relation to safeguarding    
  • Developing housing strategies to provide ‘move-on’ pathways for people out of volunteers’ homes

Longer term, the briefing identifies the need to create a new funding settlement for local government in recognition of this new role and the need to bring nationality-based ‘bespoke schemes’ for Ukraine, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and others together to create a ‘place-based’ approach which makes sense at the local level.   

Broadhead added: ‘Whilst there have been significant operational challenges in setting up the scheme, Homes for Ukraine may be a new normal for local government involvement in resettlement and community sponsorship. Properly establishing a new function could allow for better planning, better integration outcomes and, potentially, economies of scale.’   

About the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity

The Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity was founded in 2014 as the knowledge exchange arm of the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Global Exchange has extended and deepened COMPAS’s international contribution to the reciprocal sharing of expertise and ideas among academics, policymakers, professionals, civil society, lawyers, foundations, school students and others in the field.  

Inclusive Cities is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. GEM works in collaboration with RESET and Welcoming International.  
The briefing builds on feedback from 12 local authorities participating in the Inclusive Cities programme (Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Coventry, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newry, Mourne & Down, Newport, London and Sheffield).