The Government has been urged to “be part of the solution, not further trauma” for Ukrainian refugees by ensuring they can find housing when they come to move on from sponsored placements.
Concern is growing that the Homes for Ukraine scheme is being “quietly phased out”, groups have said.
Hosts want to continue supporting the families they are sponsoring, but are concerned about the scheme’s future and worried that Government support will not increase to match the rising cost of living.
And refugees looking to move to their own accommodation are facing numerous obstacles.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said it is “deeply concerned” about the growing number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless to their council.
The Government said the scheme is continuing and it is seeking to increase the number of new sponsors available.
More than 30 organisations have written to the Prime Minister seeking public assurances that the scheme will continue to receive Government backing and financial support.
The open letter reads: “The UK has a proud history of leading the fight against tyrants and standing up for the oppressed.
“Homes for Ukraine sits firmly within that tradition, which is why we hope the Government will now make clear – to host families, and refugees alike – that their commitment remains unwavering.”
The groups – including More in Common, the Refugee Council and the Sanctuary Foundation – are calling for an extra winter payment to recognise hosts’ generosity during the cost-of-living crisis.
Hosts currently receive a £350 a month “thank you” payment, with Lord Richard Harrington lobbying for this to be doubled before standing down as refugees minister in September.
They are also calling for a rental scheme where councils act as guarantors for private landlords, and for a database to be created of landlords willing to rent to refugees.
And they want to see a new refugees minister appointed following Lord Harrington’s departure.
Lesia Scholey, a host who volunteers with the Elmbridge CAN refugee charity in Elmbridge, Surrey, said: “Since the day they arrived seeking refuge and safety in the UK, Ukrainian families, many of whom are mothers and young children, have been asking what will happen to them when a hosting agreement comes to an end.
“To see many now facing homelessness, due to a lack of clear mechanisms for housing, is causing much grief.
“The UK Government must introduce a long-term plan for those on three-year visas and be part of the solution, not further trauma for displaced persons.”
Some 96,800 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme since it was launched in March, latest Government figures show.
The number of Ukrainian households which have become homeless or at risk of becoming so after arriving in England stands at 1,915 – the majority of which are families with children.
These figures, from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, also include Ukrainians who arrived under the separate Family Scheme.
YouGov polling for the group More in Common, of 2,000 people in July, suggests the scheme remains popular, with around 70% of the public wanting it to continue, and 15% opposed.
Luke Tryl, UK director at More in Common, said: “As part of her bold commitment to stand by Ukraine and its people, the Prime Minister should now ensure that hosts and families receive the clarity and extra support they need to feel safe and secure during the coming winter and the year ahead.”
James Jamieson, LGA chairman, said it is crucial financial support for sponsors is increased.
He said: “As we approach the end of the initial six-month sponsorships, it is clear that increasing numbers are ending.
“We are deeply concerned at the growing number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless to their council, and in particular the significant rise in the number of those who arrived through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”
Labour’s shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “We are facing the very real prospect of a homelessness emergency this winter as the six-month hosting period comes to an end.
“It would be shameful if Ukrainian families who fled the bombs and bullets of Putin find themselves homeless in Britain.
“The Government has had months to prepare for this but we still haven’t seen a proper plan to continue supporting people and avoid a crisis.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “The Homes for Ukraine scheme will continue as the UK Government and British people continue to go above and beyond to support those fleeing war. All arrivals have access to benefits and employment from day one.
“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 renting or finding a new sponsor.
“Councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their heads, and receive £10,500 per person to cover costs.”