Several Ukrainian refugee households have faced homelessness after arriving in Bedford, according to new figures.
Ukrainians fleeing the conflict with Russia can apply for a visa to stay in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
The Family Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals to stay with relatives already living in the UK, and the Sponsorship Scheme, also known as 'Homes for Ukraine', allows individuals to host refugees for a minimum of six months.
But the schemes have been beset with delays to processing visas – and some have warned of safeguarding issues and mismatches between hosts and refugees.
Home Office data shows seven refugee households in Bedford were homeless or at risk of homelessness as of June 3 – including four households with children.
The figures show two of these households faced homelessness after the arrangement with their hosts broke down, and two because their accommodation was found to not be suitable on arrival.
The remaining three households faced homelessness for other unspecified reasons.
According to the data, two households' homelessness duties have since ended as of June 3.
A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “No Ukrainian national in Bedford borough is currently unsupported or without accommodation.
“Bedford borough residents have been incredibly generous in offering room in their homes to people forced to flee the devastating war in Ukraine.
“In a very small number of cases the council has needed to provide assistance where, for a variety of reasons, it is no longer possible for the Ukrainian guests to continue with their original arrangements.
“This is to be expected given the number of refugees now living in the borough and shouldn’t detract from the fact that the majority are settling, with a range of support services from the council, PBIC, and other partners, and thanks to the overwhelming generosity and hospitality being offered by residents.”
Across England there were 660 Ukrainian households facing homelessness as of June 3, including 480 with children.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, a group which campaigns for those fleeing conflict, said there were worrying differences in the level of support provided by the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
“We're concerned that Ukrainians arriving on family visas are running into problems as not all relatives will have the space or the resources to support their family members – which is why there needs to be the same level of funding available to them and local councils as is provided under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”
The data also shows that as of June 14, more than 64,000 visas had been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme for English hosts, with almost 43,000 refugees arriving in the UK as of the day before.
In Bedford, 334 visas had been issued by this point, and 256 refugees due to stay with sponsors in the area had arrived in the UK.
According to the council, 248 Individuals (102 households) have arrived which are being supported.
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “All arrivals have access to benefits and public services, as well as the right to work or study, from the day they arrive.”