Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice
As we approach Christmas, I want to update Members about recent issues relating to our ongoing humanitarian Ukraine response. After months of asking for certainty about the future funding of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the UK Government has provided some clarity about a number of issues we have discussed in the Siambr.
The UK Government’s announcement about future Homes for Ukraine funding includes an extension to the host ‘thank you’ payments to the end of the second year after a Ukrainian’s arrival in the UK – something we had repeatedly asked for. It will also be uplifted to £500 a month where the hosted Ukrainian has already been in the UK for 12 months.
We had asked for this uplift to be available this winter, to help people cope with high energy bills and to help prevent homelessness presentations. Unfortunately, it will only be available from the end of Spring 2023.
The funding announcement also includes disappointing news – there will be no year two funding tariff for Homes for Ukraine visa holders. This is out-of-step with other UK Government resettlement routes and will put immense pressure on local authorities and the Welsh Government.
We would have expected to see a year two tariff of around £6,000 per person. Instead, the UK Government will make available a proportionate share of a new £150m housing support fund. We expect this to bring between £7m and £9m to Wales – compared with around £37m if the year two tariff was available.
Furthermore, the UK Government has said it intends to cut the year one tariff for new arrivals (after 1 January 2023) from £10,500 to £5,900. There are approximately 2,400 visas granted to individuals who are yet to travel to Wales. If all were to arrive after 1 January, Welsh local authorities would receive £14.16m compared with the £25.2m which would have been available when the visa applications were initially made and supported.
There is still no clarity about any year three tariff or alternative fund to continue to support people from Ukraine while they are in the UK. Under other resettlement schemes a year three tariff of £4,020 has been used. If no funding is made available, then a further £24.92m in potential support will not be available to those already here. If we include all those with visas who are yet to arrive, the total value of potential lost support could be as high as £34.57m.
The Welsh Government has already taken the decision to include £40m in our Draft Budget to continue our support people from Ukraine in Wales in 2023-24 and a further allocation of £20m in 2024-25. We will work closely with our local government partners to re-evaluate our strategy to ensure support can be provided to all those who need it over the coming year. These allocations underline our ongoing commitment as a Nation of Sanctuary to resettle those we have already welcomed and those who are still to arrive.
I am continuing to visit the initial accommodation we have set up across Wales and have today visited a welcome centre in South Wales. I had the opportunity to hear directly from our guests about the support available and how they are settling in Wales. We have this week sent Ukrainians living in Wales another newsletter to help them keep in touch and to wish them a peaceful Christmas in the circumstances.
It is vital that we maintain our focus on support in Ukraine as well as the support provided to people who have sought safety and sanctuary in Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.