More than a dozen refugee households face homelessness in Bedford

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A breakdown of the hosting arrangement was the main reason

More than a dozen Ukrainian refugee households have faced homelessness in Bedford, new figures show, as numbers jump across the country.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in March, refugees from the war have been invited to stay in the UK under the Ukrainian Sponsorship and Family schemes.

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Refugees were set up with hosts in the UK for an initial six months, who receive support from their local council and a stipend of £350.

362 Ukrainian refugee households due in Bedford – from 425 successful applications – had arrived in the UK by October 4 under the sponsorship scheme362 Ukrainian refugee households due in Bedford – from 425 successful applications – had arrived in the UK by October 4 under the sponsorship scheme
362 Ukrainian refugee households due in Bedford – from 425 successful applications – had arrived in the UK by October 4 under the sponsorship scheme

However, as the cost-of-living crisis starts to bite and the initial hosting period comes to an end, it is feared many more refugees could become homeless nationally.

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New figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) show across both schemes, 13 refugee households had been made homeless or put at risk of homelessness in Bedford as of September 23.

A breakdown of the hosting arrangement was the main reason for homelessness in seven cases, and three because their accommodation was unsuitable.

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Homelessness was avoided or relieved for five refugee households in Bedford.

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “There are over 300 Ukrainian guests living in the borough thanks to the incredible generosity of local residents who are providing them with room in their home.

"In a small number of cases guests have become homeless or at risk of homelessness because the hosting arrangements have broken down.

"Where arrangements do breakdown the council will provide guests with homelessness support, including assistance with finding a new host or, if needed, emergency temporary accommodation.”

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Hosts sign on for an initial six months, and while the Government says it will continue to provide support for an additional six months, several charities have said they are worried people may choose not to, given the rising costs of food and fuel.

Stan Benes, a trustee for Opora – a charity which helps Ukrainians settling in the UK – said that Government support has "too often fallen short", and that charities and other organisations have been left to fill in the gaps.

He said the cost-of-living crisis was a "factor", but that the lead reason for hosting arrangements breaking down was "the health of the relationship between guests and hosts", adding that many hosts did not have sufficient guidance or support when signing up to the scheme.

Separate DLUHC figures show 362 Ukrainian refugee households due in Bedford – from 425 successful applications – had arrived in the UK by October 4 under the sponsorship scheme.

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This was up from 351 arrivals on September 6, when 417 visas had been issued.

A spokesperson for DLUHC said: “We are grateful to the British public for opening up their communities to the people of Ukraine and the generosity they have shown.

“The majority of sponsors want to continue hosting for longer than six months. Where guests do move on they have a number of options, including to enter private rental or find a new host to sponsor them.

“Councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads.”