Cheshire East Council support for Ukrainian refugees
1 April 2022
Cheshire East Council has released details of how Ukrainian refugees will be supported in the borough in the first phase of the government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.
Over the last few days, central government has started to provide specific guidance about local authority responsibilities under the scheme.
The council has also now started to receive information about local sponsors and refugees heading to the borough. This has enabled the council and its partners to put processes in place and allocate resources.
The first phase is a sponsorship route to allow Ukrainians, who are known to sponsors in the UK, to come into the country under a visa to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds for three years. The sponsor will have committed to provide accommodation for a minimum of six months.
To date, sponsors in Cheshire East have volunteered 79 properties to accommodate one or more refugees, with 200 Ukrainians registered to come to the borough under the scheme. It is anticipated that these numbers will continue to change as the scheme progresses.
The council is working with partners to provide support to sponsor households, refugees and other organisations, who may be able to provide help under the scheme.
The council’s responsibilities under the scheme include:
- Providing ‘welcome’ information and ongoing information about the scheme to both refugee and sponsor;
- Safeguarding checks on accommodation and individuals, including disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks;
- Arranging payments related to the scheme to refugees and sponsor households;
- Managing school and early-years placements for children of Ukrainian families;
- Working with Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to make referrals to health services;
- Managing data sharing across organisations;
- Providing information about work and benefits; and
- Supporting integration into the community and signposting to community support.
The council will make initial contact with sponsors and give them a single point of contact for advice and support and to outline what happens next. A DBS check will be required for all adults in the sponsor household.
An enhanced check will be required for households that will be welcoming children.The housing team will undertake checks of the accommodation the sponsor is offering, to ensure that it is safe and suitable for the needs of the individual or families who are coming to stay.
Refugees will be contacted by the council in the first days after their arrival to arrange initial £200 payment to each refugee and then, once DBS and housing check are fully processed, the council will arrange for payment of the optional monthly £350 ‘thank you’ payment to sponsors. These payments are funded through the government scheme.
The council will also support families with children and schools and early-years providers through the application for school and childcare places.
Long-term support will be provided by the council and partners throughout the scheme. This includes support where placements end and help may be required to find alternative accommodation. The council will receive £10,500 per individual, from government, to fund the additional support and resources required under this scheme.
Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “The people of Cheshire East have, in the last few years, found it in their hearts to welcome people from overseas who are seeking to escape adversity.
“The council has played a key role through the asylum seeker dispersal programme, the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme and, most recently, the Afghan relocations and assistance policy. I know that the council and the people of Cheshire East will now provide a similar welcome and support to our Ukrainian friends escaping the violence in their homeland.
Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of the council, said: “The council and its partners have a key role to play in supporting refugees and sponsors under this scheme. We have a duty to ensure that they are safe and supported and that children can access education.
“The council and its partners, including voluntary organisations, have demonstrated on a number of occasions that Cheshire East is up to the challenge.”
A second phase of the scheme is planned which will match sponsors and Ukrainian refugees who are not known to each other. The guidance around the matching process has yet to be released.