British hosts of Ukrainian refugees have experienced a postcode lottery in receiving monthly £350 “thank you” payments, according to a charity.
Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, households hosting Ukrainians are entitled to the cash for stepping forward. But in some areas, the rollout of the payments has been slow or delayed.
Rend Platings, chair of Mums4Ukraine, told Sky News: “In some places, payments are happening quickly and more efficiently, and others they’re being more delayed.
“It is a postcode lottery. What we need to see happen is a more human side to the way in which we’re dealing with all of this.”
Ms Platings added that for some households, delayed payments have led to financial pressures which have had devastating consequences.
She said: “We have seen some more serious cases, where hosts have just not been able to make ends meet, have asked Ukrainian guests for money and the relationship has broken down – just due to the pressure of the situation.
“Unfortunately, in some of those cases, Ukrainian guests have had to leave that accommodation.”
Alex Sadler and his partner have been hosting Natalia and her five-year-old daughter since April.
They experienced a delay in their “thank you” payment which Alex says affected their ability to give the Ukrainian family a full experience.
He told Sky News: “It’s about showing them, I guess, a real welcome to this country and showing them that we’re here to support them.
“I think we weren’t able to do that. We imagined we would show them around, splash out on them, treat them to a nice, much nicer life than the one that they’re coming from.”
He added that had the payments not been delayed, Natalia would have been able to start building her independence earlier.
Aside from the grants issue, the cost-of-living crisis has heaped further financial pressure of both hosts and refugees.
Cherry Hinton Baptist Church in Cambridge is helping coordinate a food bank.
Coordinator Chris Tanton told Sky News there’s been “strong demand”.
He said: “British people have been very good in letting people into their homes in terms of opening up and giving them a roof over their heads.
“But that doesn’t mean that they can support them with the ongoing cost of living, that doesn’t mean they can continue to feed them and clothe them, to the level that they deserve, necessarily, so places like this, they help.”
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association, which represents more than 350 councils across England and Wales, said: “Councils continue to work tirelessly to support communities and individuals who have shown huge generosity and offered to host those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“The priority for councils has been putting in place quickly and at scale both the necessary checks to ensure that hosts and their guests are safe and supported.
“Councils are aware that another key task is to pay hosts the ‘thank you’ payment.
“Now the funding and guidance from government is in place, those hosting new arrivals will be receiving these payments as soon as possible if they haven’t already, including backdated payments.”