Cheshire East support for Ukrainian Crisis

The National Government has just announced a revised support package for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. New over £650m support package for Ukrainians sees increased ‘thank you’ payments for longer-term hosts - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

We are currently working to understand what these changes mean for the scheme in Cheshire East, for sponsors, for guests and for the services provided by the council and its partners.

The headlines released so far include:

  • Homes for Ukraine hosts to receive £500 a month as a ‘thank you’ for ongoing support after Ukrainian’s first year of sponsorship
  • £150m additional funding for local authorities across the UK to help support Ukrainian guests move into their own homes and reduce the risk of homelessness
  • Councils in England to get new £500m fund to acquire housing stock for those fleeing conflict (including from Ukraine and Afghanistan) and reduce homelessness
  • New potential hosts urged to come forward and apply to re-match existing guests through the scheme

We will provide more information about how these changes to the scheme will affect our work, sponsors and guests in Cheshire East as we work through the details.

This page can be translated into Ukrainian, or other languages – use the ‘listen and translate’ link at the top of the page. 

Many of the staff members of non-essential services are on annual leave for Christmas 2022/2023 from 23rd December until 3rd January. In addition to the normal bank holidays, some council buildings will be closed for several days as demand for many services reduces.

During this period if you need to contact the council in an emergency please see the information below, otherwise, we will respond to your email on our return.

Emergency and out of hours contact information:

Anyone who has concerns for the safety of a child, young person, or adult phone the Social Care Out of Hours Service (Emergency Duty Team) on 0300 123 5022

If you or someone else is at immediate risk of harm, contact the emergency services by ringing 999.  If it is not an emergency, call 101. You can also report non-urgent crimes online on the Cheshire Police website.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment you can use the national telephone relay service, just dial 18001 before the number or 18000 in an emergency.

If you are concerned about a Ukrainian family or individual who became or is at a risk of becoming homeless, please contact Housing Options Team:

Call our Housing Options Team during office hours on 0300 123 5017 (Option 2).

At weekends and when the office is closed you can call us on 0300 123 5025

Please visit our webpage for more information about Homelessness

For Emergency Assistance Scheme, Call customer services on 0300 123 5013 and choose the option ‘emergency assistance’.

School Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2022

A guide has been produced to support Ukrainian families during the school holidays. This will include educational resources for children who wish to continue learning during the school holidays, advice and guidance on mental health and wellbeing and information about activities. These include holiday clubs funded through the Cheshire East Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme. Holiday activities and food programme (HAF) (cheshireeast.gov.uk)

Residents of Cheshire East have shown fantastic generosity in offering homes to Ukrainians escaping the conflict in their homeland. More than 350 sponsors have offered accommodation in the borough under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, through which the borough has received 615 Ukrainian nationals. 

The Homes for Ukraine scheme asks that sponsors initially commit to providing accommodation for six months.  The first refugees came to Cheshire East under the scheme around six months ago, so we have been working to reduce the risk of homelessness in preparation for this threshold. To date, three in four sponsor households have indicated they wish to continue hosting beyond the six-month period, however, this means that one in four placements may need additional support to continue or to find alternative accommodation.

We also know that cost-of-living pressures may impact on sponsors’ ability and willingness to continue to support the scheme. To help with this, and reduce the risk of placement breakdown, we are putting in place additional payments for sponsors, using a proportion of the government funding tariff of the Homes for Ukraine scheme that has been received by the council. These additional payments will be for sponsors participating in the Homes for Ukraine Scheme who agree to continue sponsoring beyond the initial six-month period to receive an extra £100 per month (months 7 to 12). 

We also will provide additional funding towards the energy costs for existing and new Homes for Ukraine sponsors as described above, with £100 per household per month during November and December 2022 and January and February 2023 only. We have received from assurance from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that the proposed discretionary payments would be tax free and would not affect sponsors’ entitlement to benefits or their council tax status. For any self-employed sponsors, we would be advising them that its non-taxable income for their self-assessment.

Government/DLUHC has outlined ten key responsibilities for councils under the Homes for Ukraine scheme:

1. Initial reception for guest and sponsor

2. Access to data

3. Safeguarding checks – inc DBS checks for sponsors

4. Interim payments for guests (ahead of work / benefits)

5. Education / early years provision

6. Local service referrals (Public health, mental health, voluntary, community and faith sector)

7. Work and benefits

8. Homelessness/housing support in event of placement ending/breakdown

9. Community integration

10. Managing sponsor ‘thank you’ payment

Timescales

(These timings should be taken as a guide only.  Actual timescales may vary based on individual circumstances.)

  • DBS checks for sponsor households will generally take around 10 working days to complete.
  • Housing inspections will be arranged as soon as possible following initial contact between sponsor household and the council.  However, this depends on the number of inspections required at any given time.  It may take a few weeks for the inspection to be carried out.
  • £350 ‘thank you’ monthly payment to sponsors will begin once the DBS checks and house inspection has been approved and the guests have arrived.
  • £200 ‘welcome’ payment to guests will be paid on arrival and initial contact is made by the council.
  • School applications usually take up to 15 school days to process.  Where an application is referred to a Fair Access Panel then it can take up to 20 school days.

If you would like to register your interest as a sponsor, you can do this on the government’s website -  Homes for Ukraine - record your interest - GOV.UK 

Communication with your guest - English Unlocked Communications Training has been supporting the Ukraine crisis by offering ‘How to speak in clear and simple English to the refugee in your home’ courses for sponsors.

English Unlocked supports the refugee crisis -  Eventbrite

Our Skills and Lifelong Learning team runs classes for non-English speakers aged 19 years and over to gain accredited qualifications in English for speakers of another language through Lifelong Learning.

Homes for Ukraine sponsor toolkit - Reset Communities and Refugees (resetuk.org).

How the NHS works, a guide for migrants

More information about applying for school places is available under information for applying for schools drop down.

You may also find the information under information for Ukrainian refugees useful.

Under the council’s statutory duty to promote the welfare of adults and children at risk, the council is required to check all accommodation being offered under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme to ensure it is safe and appropriate for the guests.

The government has already advised that sponsors should be committed to providing accommodation for at least 6 months, although the thank you payment will be available for up to 12 months, whilst the sponsor continues to sponsor a guest.

The accommodation provided for guests should be safe, heated, and free from health hazards, and will give your guests adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities. The accommodation should also provide your guests with privacy, for which a bed in a shared space, such as a sofa bed in a living room, would not be an appropriate offer of accommodation for 6 months or longer.

Furthermore, the Government has also advised that accommodation:

  • be kept clean and in a reasonable state
  • have adequate kitchen and bathroom space
  • have access to drinking water
  • have a working smoke detector on each floor of the property and other fire safety precautions suitable for the building e.g. fire doors or escape routes as appropriate (further information on making a home safe from fire)
  • have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove)
  • have sufficient heating to keep the property at a comfortable temperature;
  • have safe gas appliances, fittings and flues and have undertaken a Gas Safety check within the last year (more information on gov.uk)
  • have safe and working electricity, which a qualified electrician can help with if you are unsure
  • be almost entirely free of damp or mould
  • have doors and windows at entry level that lock properly
  • be easy and safe to move around in, without excessively steep staircases that may cause harm

Overcrowding and Space Standards

Sponsors should also consider how many guests they can accommodate so they have sufficient space. Two people should not be allowed to sleep in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners, a parent and child, two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10 or two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who didn’t previously know each other should not be given the same room to sleep in.

When council officers carry out their check of the accommodation, legislation standards typically used in regulating rental properties, will largely be used to assess whether the accommodation being offered is suitable and appropriate for the guests and whether any overcrowding would exist or be created as a result of your guest staying.  The following are minimum room floor areas that our officers will be mindful of when assessing rooms suitable for sleeping purposes:

Rooms measuring:

  • less than 4.65m2 are not suitable for sleeping purposes
  • between 4.65m2 and 6.50m2 are suitable for a child under 10 years of age
  • between 6.51m2 and 8.36m2 are suitable for 1 adult person
  • between 8.37m2 and 10.22m2 is suitable for sharing with 1 adult person a child under 10 years of age
  • Larger than 10.22m2 is suitable for 2 adult cohabiting partners to share

Since the accommodation being offered is not subject to the usual landlord/tenant legislative requirements, there is a degree of flexibility for councils to accept lower standards and sizes of accommodation than that which would be accepted in the private rental sector. Nevertheless, we are still required to ensure that accommodation is suitable and provides a safe and healthy environment for the guests and for the duration of their stay.

Whilst guests may accept living in confined conditions for a short period time without experiencing or it causing them harm, evidence suggests that overcrowding is linked to detrimental health conditions, which include psychological and mental health disorders, particularly that associated with a lack of privacy and childhood development.  As sponsors are being asked to provide accommodation for at least 6 months, we are required to look further ahead than just short term needs, if the accommodation being offered is to remain a healthy environment and not be the cause of health issues or result in a relationship breakdown.

Other accommodation requirements

  • window restrictors will be required on all openable windows with cills equal to or less than 800mm above the internal floor level and are located on the first floor or above, to prevent anyone from accidentally falling though the open window
  • any room containing an open flue (log or multi fuel burner, solid fuel fire etc) will require a working carbon monoxide detector fixed within that room
  • you will be required to supply a satisfactory service certificate or gas safety certificate, which is less than 12 months old, for any gas or oil-fired central heating boiler
  • your electrical installation throughout the property will need to be visibly free from any damage or disrepair
  • conservatories are not appropriate for use as sleeping accommodation
  • you may be asked to provide evidence of a building control completion certificate for any garages that have been converted for use as living accommodation

Welcome: a guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK - GOV.UK

Department for work and pensions – support for Ukrainians arriving in the UK 

Support for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine - Understanding Universal Credit

information leaflet for ukrainians arriving in the uk

information leaflet for ukrainians arriving in the uk - ukrainian

how to register with a gp asylum seekers and refugees

Cheshire East Family Information booklet (English) (PDF, 274KB)

Cheshire East Family Information booklet (Ukrainian) (PDF, 414KB)

How the NHS works: A guide for migrants (Ukrainian)

The following information help sponsors help their guests to apply for school places for their children.

School applications key messages for sponsors - how to apply (PDF, 222KB)

School applications key messages for sponsors - FAQs (PDF, 334KB)

An application should be submitted for each child.  This can be completed before the child has arrived in the UK or after they have arrived. We would strongly encourage that an application is only made either after the child has arrived or when arrangements are confirmed (for example, checks completed) so a place is not offered until it is needed. It must be submitted by the parent or someone who has care of the child.  Although sponsors can support with the application they are not permitted to apply on behalf of the parent. We understand that sponsors will want to support parents.  We may need to speak to the parent or make verification checks before discussing an application with the sponsor or other person.

For further information about applying for school places, please visit School admissions (cheshireeast.gov.uk)

For information about activities during the holidays please see support for Ukrainian Families in the holidays (PDF, 331KB).

The council is keeping stakeholders and supporters informed with regular email briefings and webinars and meetings.

The latest stakeholder briefings, including key statistics, guidance and updates, are available below:

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 8 November 2022 (PDF, 193KB)

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 10 August 2022 (PDF, 473KB)

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 18 July 2022 (PDF, 131KB)

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 29 June 2022 (PDF, 193KB)

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 19 May 2022 (PDF, 190KB)

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 5 May 2022 (PDF, 147KB)

CEC Homes for Ukraine Stakeholder Briefing 21 April 2022 (PDF, 111KB)

The Ukraine Family Scheme is open to allow Ukrainians to join family members in the UK or to extend their stay in the UK.

People applying under this visa route must be applying to join/accompany a UK-based family member, be a Ukrainian national (or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national applying to the scheme) and have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1st January 2022.

The council does not have the same responsibilities under the Ukraine Family Scheme as it does under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

If you wish to donate items, please contact the following independent drop-off points (this list will be updated as further locations are added):

Rotary Club
Glebe Farm
Peel Lane
Astbury
Congleton
CW12 4RQ
Contact: Mark Bailey 07722 00842

The Corner Studio
110 Victoria Street
Crewe
CW1 2JT
Contact: 07895586533

A Stroke of Magic Hair and Beauty
Goostrey Home and Leisure
Goostrey Lane
Cranage
CW4 8HE
Contact: Claire Steel

Drop off welcome 10am – 4pm Monday – Saturday 

At the present time, Cheshire East cannot accept any types of financial support. For any financial contributions please see the links below:

Disasters Emergency Committee, Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which provides food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families. Donations will be match funded by the government up to a total of £20m. 

The British Red Cross, which has launched an appeal to help the Ukrainian Red Cross to provide food, medicine, clothing and shelter, as well as first aid training in bomb shelters

The UNHCR refugee agency, which is funding emergency shelters, repairs for homes damaged by shelling, emergency cash assistance, psychological support and warm clothing 

Unicef, the UN children's charity, which is helping to ensure families have clean water and food and that child health and protection services continue

Save the Children, which is providing cash assistance, food and other support to refugees crossing into Romanian and Lithuania, as well as in Ukraine itself. 

If you have any questions regarding the scheme, please email: refugeeinfo@cheshireeast.gov.uk  or phone 0300 123 5034.

Page last reviewed: 26 July 2022