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Introduction

The Framework sets out how people who arrive via the Welsh Government Super Sponsor route and accommodated initially in Welcome Centres are dispersed across Wales.

The framework also provides the principles local authorities need to consider when rehousing people from Ukraine either from Welcome Centres or where existing placements have broken down. It also provides advice on the provision of ‘thank you payments’ to hosts regardless of the visa route of the people they host.

It therefore applies to those coming under:

  1. the Welsh Government’s Super Sponsor route
  2. the Homes for Ukraine scheme
  3. the Ukraine Family visa scheme.

The framework has been developed to provide over-arching principles to help local authorities with the challenging process of balancing our commitment to the people from Ukraine and homeless households in temporary accommodation.

Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary, and we are offering accommodation and support to individuals and families fleeing Ukraine in recognition of our common humanity and in order to provide stability at this very difficult time. We recognise the considerable pressures currently on housing capacity across Wales, with many more people than ever in temporary accommodation who also need to move into permanent housing.

People from Ukraine who have been granted a visa will have up to three years’ leave to remain in the UK. Therefore, longer-term solutions should be sought for rehousing people from initial sponsor placements and the Welcome Centres, which includes hosting options, private rented and social housing sectors. B&B and hotel accommodation would not be considered a suitable longer-term solution.

Over-arching principles

This Framework provides some over-arching principles, within which we expect local authorities to operate. It is for local authorities to apply this within a local context, exercising professional judgement, consistent with existing legal and policy frameworks.

The key over-arching principles are:

  • Local authorities who host Welcome Centres are not responsible for rehousing all Welcome Centre occupants, though we will expect a proportionate share of occupants to remain in the host local authority.
  • The Welsh Government is responsible for determining the fair and proportionate ‘distribution’ of Welcome Centre occupants to local authorities across Wales. 
  • Local authorities are responsible for ‘allocating’ housing to individuals and families where placement breakdowns occur; when doing this local authorities must be mindful of the needs of all populations in housing need in their area, particularly those in temporary accommodation.
  • Local authorities should consider community cohesion when rehousing people.
  • Once people leave a Welcome Centre and arrive in a local authority area, the local authority in question will be responsible for their housing needs in the same way as for other individuals eligible for homelessness services.
  • Local authorities will be responsible for ensuring all hosts have been subject to necessary Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and local safeguarding checks and property inspections have taken place in all properties.
  • All appropriate ‘move-on’ options should be considered for anyone whose initial placement (in Welcome Centres or with sponsors) has ended or broken down, including hosting, social housing and private rented sector accommodation.
  • There needs to be a level of individual ‘preference’ taken into consideration, but it should be made clear that this is not the same as choice. Preference will be taken into account where possible, but it may not be possible.

Ukrainian visa holders have a right to move and settle anywhere across the UK, so offers of accommodation may not necessarily be taken up.

Welcome Centres

As part of the Super Sponsor process, the Welsh Government has established a number of Welcome Centres across Wales. Local authorities which initially host people in Welcome Centres will not be responsible for rehousing them all. Instead, a key principle of our approach is that there will be a fair and proportionate move-on of people from Welcome Centres across Wales.

The Welsh Government and local authorities have agreed a pan-Wales response with all local authorities keen to play their part in offering accommodation fairly and proportionately to their circumstances. To facilitate this, a population-based formula, designed to recognise that some lower population local authority areas have seen a disproportionate number of applications under the Homes for Ukraine scheme has been developed. More information is available in Annex A. This formula will be used as a guide to the move-on distribution of people from Welcome Centres to each local authority in Wales. The Welsh Government, working with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), will have an overall monitoring role around where people have been rehoused and, given the fast paced nature of this work, consideration of the formula is ongoing.

Staff in the Welcome Centres will work with people who arrive to identify and capture any property/location needs that should also be considered when determining where to rehome people. This information will then be shared with the relevant local authority as an initial step in matching people to appropriate accommodation when they leave the Welcome centre. This is on the principle that whilst such needs will be considered, it will not always be possible to accommodate them.

The Welsh Government will work with local authorities as early as possible once people arrive at Welcome Centres to give them details on who they will be responsible for rehousing, to provide them with as much time as possible to secure suitable accommodation and support to facilitate a smooth transition to longer-term accommodation. Further information is available in the section ‘Offer, move-on and support in new home’.

Arrangements for travel

Moving on from Welcome Centres

In order to facilitate the move on from a Welcome Centre, travel arrangements to the new home will need to be discussed. Move-on to the new home should be undertaken following confirmation that DBS, local safeguarding checks and property inspections are complete.

If Welcome Centre residents are moving onto Private Rented or Social Housing accommodation options arranged by the Local Authority, then address details will need to be provided by the relevant local authority to the Welcome Centre so that arrangements can be made.

Legal duties and eligibility

Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 outlines the statutory duty placed on local authorities to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The Welsh Government recognise that local authorities have the local housing knowledge and are best placed to ensure housing need is met in their local area. The Home Office has made changes to the Immigration Rules to specify routes for Ukrainian people to settle in the UK via 3 principal Schemes:

  • The Ukraine Family Scheme, which will allow immediate and extended family members of British citizens, UK settled persons and others to come from Ukraine to, or stay in, the UK.
  • The Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, which will allow Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family to come to the UK where they have an Approved sponsor who has agreed to provide accommodation. This includes those who come under the Welsh Government ‘Super Sponsor’ scheme.
  • The Ukraine Extension Scheme, which will allow Ukrainian nationals with their partners and children in the UK with permission on 18 March 2022 (including those who have overstayed by a short period) to stay in the UK.

In order to provide immediate support for people initially arriving, or who were in Wales before the start of the war, ‘leave outside the rules’ was granted.

This gave households immediate access to benefits and services, including housing and homelessness assistance, without fulfilling the habitual residence test. The three Schemes, which regularise the ‘leave outside the rules’ arrangements, make successful applicants eligible for social housing and homelessness assistance as permitted by the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) Regulations 2014 (“the 2014 Regulations”). The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 amended the 2014 Regulations to give these groups eligibility for homelessness assistance and social housing as from 28 April 2022.

People arriving under any of the UK Government’s Ukraine visa schemes have the right to access housing and homelessness services in the same way as other people in Wales. As such, where people do not have access to housing, or their initial placement breaks down or is deemed unsuitable, the responsibility for addressing their housing needs rests with the local authority. 

As is the case with the UK Government, the Welsh Government is unable to play a direct role in accommodating people under the Family Visa Scheme or Homes for Ukraine Visa Scheme and regards any accommodation issues as matters to be resolved by local authorities. 

Ultimately, the visa scheme that an individual applies under does not determine or limit the types of accommodation individuals can access or be moved onto. There are however different types of financial support attached to different visa routes as set out below.

Financial Support for different visa schemes

Regardless of the sponsor route, applicants will be able to be hosted differently over time. This may be matching to a host from a family situation, from a Welcome centre or re-matching where a host arrangement breaks down or ends.

The below sets out the sponsor process and funding available through each scheme:

Family sponsor

  • Visa application process (UKG).
  • UKG expectation that family sponsor also hosts, although not a requirement for application under the scheme.
  • LA duties apply as per any other citizen.

Individual sponsor

  • Visa application process (UKG).
  • PNC check on sponsor (UKG).
  • Sponsor accommodation check and DBS checks (LA).
  • UKG expectation that sponsor commits to minimum of 6 months accommodation offer.
  • As a host no ‘rent’ can be charged.
  • £350 pcm payable to host via the LA.
  • LA duties apply as per any other citizen.
  • £10,500 Tariff, funded  by UKG is paid via WG to relevant LA.
  • Additional tariff payable for education.

Welsh Government super sponsor

  • Visa application process (UKG).
  • Initial accommodation in WG Welcome Centre.
  • Dispersal from welcome centres.
  • LA duties apply as per any other citizen.
  • Accommodation could be hosting (accommodation and DBS by LA) or other accommodation.
  • LA duties apply as per any other citizen.
  • £10,500 tariff / education tariff (or pro rata) funded by UKG paid via WG to relevant  LA.
  • Where applicant moves to  host  - £350 pcm funded by UKG and paid by them direct to LA.

Download the process as a diagram.

Thank you payments to hosts

Thank you payments of £350 per calendar month will be payable to hosts. These are subject to the key checks being completed as set out in the Homes for Ukraine: guidance for sponsors.

Details of how Local authorities should claim for reimbursement of host thank you payments will be provided separately.

Increasing accommodation capacity: hosting

Hosting Wales: expressions of interest from hosts

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, the Welsh Government has been working to establish accommodation offers to assist local authorities to identify suitable hosts for Ukrainian citizens and families who have come to Wales to seek sanctuary though the following:

  • Homes for Ukraine:
    • individual sponsor route
    • Welsh Government Super Sponsor route.
  • Family Sponsor scheme.

The Welsh Government has contacted everyone in Wales who had previously submitted an expression of interest (EOI) to the UK Government and those who made an offer direct to the Welsh Government. These are from prospective hosts in Wales who have confirmed their interest in hosting a person or family from Ukraine.

This data has been made available to local authorities and is made up of positive responses for local authorities to follow up and draw on hosts locally. This represents a significant step forward in increasing the accommodation options available to local authorities. A copy of the communication sent to local authorities about this host data is at Annex B.

The data provides information such as the number of rooms, how long the offer is for, the accommodation type, and whether a sponsor will take children and adults, or only adults. This will allow local authorities to prioritise their assessment of potential hosts.

Local authorities are expected to carry out property checks, DBS and local safeguarding checks as per current expectations for hosts. Read the guidance.

Local authorities will want to commence checks as soon as possible in order to ensure a pipeline of verified hosts ready to accommodate people as need arises.

The data made available to local authorities can be used at local authority discretion regardless of the sponsor scheme used for a visa application to match people and families from Ukraine to a host in Wales, for example, hosts may be used to accommodate individuals or families who:

  • having sought a visa through the Welsh Government Super Sponsor route are being settled in the local area
  • having sought a visa via the Homes for Ukraine individual Sponsor Scheme are unable to remain with their original sponsor / host (described as ‘re-matching’)
  • having sought a visa through the UK Government Family Sponsor Scheme are found to be without accommodation or in unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation.

Re-matching

In circumstances where the local authority will consider it necessary to find a new hosting arrangement for a person or family from Ukraine. This may be because:

  • it is not viable for the Ukrainian guest(s) to stay where they are
  • of failed DBS, local safeguarding or accommodation checks.

Before people or families from Ukraine can either be matched or re-matched to any host, local authorities should undertake relevant DBS, local safeguarding and accommodation checks in advance of move-in. Post move in checks are also necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all parties.

In terms of re-matching Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme the £350 thank you payment is paid direct from UK Government to local authorities. If re-matching is required, the local authority will need to raise a case via JIRA to UK Government to ensure payment is re-allocated to the relevant host.

For this reason, it is imperative that local authorities initiate the relevant checks outlined above to enable people and families to find settled accommodation with prospective hosts who have confirmed their interest in hosting a person or family from Ukraine.

The person or family from Ukraine should also be informed that these checks need to take place before they move to the new accommodation and the local authority will contact them once completed. This may mean that temporary accommodation will need to be found during this period.  

In some instances the host and guest may have identified alternative hosts. In such situations the local authority should seek to determine who these new hosts will be and their address so that either appropriate DBS and local safeguarding checks can be carried out, or (if the new host resides in another local authority area) the case passed across to the other local authority to undertake the appropriate safeguarding and property checks.

If re-matching people or family members from Ukraine to a host who has previously sponsored on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, local authorities will not be required to undertake additional checks in advance, if they do not judge them necessary.

If a sponsorship has broken down due to concerns over the quality of accommodation or safeguarding issues related to the host, that host should not be considered for re- matching.

Statutory homelessness duties

Local authorities’ statutory homelessness duties are likely to apply in instances of early sponsorship breakdown. Local housing authorities may be able to end a homelessness prevention or relief duty owed to a Ukrainian beneficiary by facilitating a rematch, provided the placement and accommodation are suitable and there is a reasonable prospect of it continuing to be available for at least 6 months.

In the unfortunate event that a hosting relationship breaks down, people and families from Ukraine may present themselves to local authorities as being homeless, or will become imminently homeless. Local housing authorities must continue to consider their statutory homelessness duties in full and take account of the individual circumstances of each household when assessing if the accommodation and match is suitable.

Checks and safeguarding

The safety of beneficiaries and sponsors within the Homes for Ukraine scheme is critical. Because re-matching will be local authority-led and take place outside of the visa process, checks for new hosts/accommodation providers will be the responsibility of local authorities. Local authorities will be required to undertake relevant DBS, local safeguarding checks and accommodation checks in advance of move-in. Due to the disruption beneficiaries will have experienced due to the breakdown of a previous sponsorship, a further wellbeing check after the people or family from Ukraine have arrived is strongly recommended.

Informing the Welsh Government and UK Government of changes

Welsh Government

General query inbox: UkraineResponseQueries@gov.wales

Safeguarding only inbox: Ukraine.Safeguarding@gov.wales

UK Government

Local Authorities can log in via the portal.

Alternatively, call the telephone desk: 0303 444 4445

Opening hours: 9am-6pm: Monday-Friday (except bank holidays).

Hosting arrangements

The local authority is: 

  • responsible for carrying out property DBS and local safeguarding checks on host accommodation
  • responsible for ensuring that hosts understand that they cannot charge rent for the accommodation 
  • providing assistance to hosts to claim the £350 per month sponsorship payment. 

Funding for temporary accommodation

There is no UK Government funding for accommodation (apart from the £350 payment to host households). The expectation is therefore that any temporary accommodation costs will be met by the local authority. 

Additional accommodation capacity

Whilst the responsibility for accommodating individuals rests with local authorities, in addition to the data base of available hosts in Wales, the Welsh Government is looking to increase the accommodation options available to local authorities through other mechanisms.

Private Rented Sector

The Welsh Government is working with Rent Smart Wales and landlord representative groups to establish if there are properties they will consider making available for rent to people fleeing Ukraine. Where landlords come forward, local authorities should hold a conversation with them to establish if they would alternatively be willing to rent their property to people currently in temporary accommodation or other people seeking sanctuary. Local authorities taking part in Leasing Scheme Wales should also promote this during the conversation. 

Local authorities are responsible for establishing if the properties offered are registered with Rent Smart Wales and for carrying out affordability checks for the people from Ukraine. 

The local authority will hold a record of all private rented sector properties offered and contact the individual who manages the property on a regular basis to:

  • establish if a property is to be removed from the record as it has already been let
  • Whether the property is still available.

Social Housing and increases to stock

Local authorities and Registered Social Landlords should continue to house people in their areas based on housing need. This should already include a focus on letting properties to households currently living in temporary accommodation across Wales in line with the Minister for Climate Change’s statement in November 2021

The Transitional Accommodation Capital Programme (TACP) Grant

The Welsh Government is working with local authorities and Registered Social Landlords to increase the amount of social housing available in Wales by bringing properties back into use and by providing support for the development of new high quality temporary and intermediate housing.

The Transitional Accommodation Capital Programme (TACP) Grant has recently been launched to help facilitate this. Under the terms of the funding, once these properties are available, they will be let to people currently in temporary accommodation or to those from Welcome Centres. The TACP is also intended to provide housing for Ukrainians who have entered via Wales other routes (i.e. not via Welcome Centres) and those who are moving from temporary accommodation generally.

Allocation of accommodation

The Welsh Government recognises that local authorities are best placed to understand a household’s housing needs and make decisions on allocation of accommodation for people who are settling to their area from Welcome Centres, from other routes to Wales or where existing hosting arrangements have broken down. 

Local authorities will be expected to:

  • maintain an up-to-date list of all properties available in their area for matching and note when a property match is made.  The Welsh Government will provide updated information on potential hosts as it becomes available.
  • ensure all private rented sector accommodation offers are registered with Rent Smart Wales
  • establish with the landlord / agent if they will consider letting the property to people in temporary accommodation
  • carry out property inspection on shared host accommodation
  • carry out DBS and local safeguarding checks on household members before matching to shared host accommodation
  • all offers of accommodation should be matched to the person/family in the greatest housing need where people and property size matches.

Offer, move-on and support in new home

Once matched the local authority where the match is made will advise staff in the Welcome Centre who will inform the individual / family of the offer of accommodation and provide information on the property and location. 

Ideally, the family will be given at least one week to move to their new home and sign appropriate paperwork relating to the type of home they have been offered.  Where needed, the local authority should arrange information and advice to explain what they are agreeing to in the paperwork.

Properties that are let unfurnished or without suitable or adequate floor coverings 

Information on furniture and floor covering options will be provided to the individual / family by the local authority offering the accommodation; this will include local furniture recycling and flooring charities and any public funds which they may be eligible to apply for. Within social housing consideration should be given to providing suitable or adequate floor coverings through the Discretionary Assistance Fund.

Where people are offered a new home, there should be appropriate offers of support to help them adjust to life in Wales with support from the local authority teams or tenancy support to help with this transition.

Emergency placements

Where people present at homelessness services or are identified as requiring emergency accommodation, it remains the responsibility of the local authority to identify suitable accommodation in their area. 

Welcome Centres should not be viewed as an emergency placement mechanism. They have been designed to provide capacity to support those arriving via the Super Sponsor route and not as a mechanism for emergency placements.

In extremely exceptional circumstances, we may be able to offer very short-term placement within a Welcome Centre while a more appropriate local solution is urgently sourced. This will only be offered in the most exceptional of circumstances, where all local options have been exhausted, and only where there is sufficient capacity within a Welcome Centre.

In such circumstances, the local authority should contact UkraineResponseQueries@gov.wales to assess whether this option can be offered. In these rare circumstances, the responsibility for accommodating the individuals will remain with the local authority, who will be expected to urgently source a suitable local solution.

Support and guidance

People coming from Ukraine will need support as they transition into their new homes in Wales. Local authorities will need to assess the support needs of people from Ukraine being housed in their area and make links to support for the people moving to Wales and for people who are hosting. This is a fast moving area of work and guidance is regularly updated, we recommend checking the Welsh Government website for the latest advice and information related to helping and supporting people from Ukraine.

Annex A: population allocation

The allocation formula is a weighted formula based on a combination of the population of the local authority (80%) and the number of visas issued by the Home Office to people from Ukraine via the individual sponsorship route (20%). 

The figures below give an estimated number of people each local authority could expect to rehouse from the initial 1,000 people who are expected to come to Wales via the Super Sponsor route. The Welsh Government will monitor data to ensure that all local authorities are assisting with the rehousing of people from Welcome Centres.

Area

Super Sponsor split by local authority

Wales

1,000

Isle of Anglesey

23

Gwynedd

36

Conwy

37

Denbighshire

30

Flintshire

52

Wrexham

43

Powys

37

Ceredigion

21

Pembrokeshire

32

Carmarthenshire

59

Swansea

79

Neath Port Talbot

49

Bridgend

47

Vale of Glamorgan

38

Cardiff

120

Rhondda Cynon Taf

86

Merthyr Tydfil

21

Caerphilly

64

Blaenau Gwent

26

Torfaen

29

Monmouthshire

18

Newport

53

Annex B: copy of communication sent to local authorities

Hosting Wales: expressions of interest from hosts in Wales

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, the Welsh Government has been working to establish accommodation offers to assist local authorities to identify suitable hosts for Ukrainian citizens and families who have come to Wales to seek sanctuary though the following:

  • Homes for Ukraine:
    • individual sponsor route
    • Welsh Government Super Sponsor route.
  • Family Sponsor scheme.

We have contacted everyone in Wales who had previously submitted an expression of interest (EOI) to the UK Government and those who made an offer direct to Welsh Government. These are from prospective hosts in Wales who have confirmed their interest in hosting a person or family from Ukraine.

The data we are now sharing is made up of positive responses to that follow up contact and means that local authorities will be able to follow up and draw on hosts locally. This represents a significant step forward in increasing the accommodation options available to local authorities.

This data has been shared with local authorities via the external file sharing platform: objective connect.

The data will give information such as the number of rooms, how long the offer is for, the accommodation type, and whether a sponsor will take children and adults, or only adults. This will allow local authorities to prioritise their assessment of potential hosts.

Local authorities are expected to carry out property checks DBS and local safeguarding checks as per current expectations for hosts through the UK Government Families for Ukraine Scheme. 

Local Authorities will want to commence checks as soon as possible in order to ensure a pipeline of verified hosts ready to accommodate people as need arises. Prospective hosts who completed the survey were informed that the information would be passed to local authorities in Wales so you can begin accommodation suitability and safeguarding checks.

Purpose of the data

The data made available to local authorities can be used at local authority discretion regardless of the sponsor scheme used for a visa application to match people and families from Ukraine to a host in Wales, for example, hosts may be used to accommodate individuals or families who;

  • having sought a visa through the Welsh Government Super Sponsor route are being settled in the local area;
  • having sought a visa via the Homes for Ukraine individual Sponsor Scheme are unable to remain with their original sponsor / host (you may hear this described as ‘re-matching’)
  • having sought a visa through the UK Government Family Sponsor Scheme are found to be without accommodation or in unsuitable or overcrowded accommodation.

Rematching

In some circumstances the local authority will consider it necessary to find a new hosting arrangement for a person or family from Ukraine. This may be because it is not viable for the people or family from Ukraine to stay where they are, for example because of failed DBS, local safeguarding or accommodation checks or where a hosting arrangement has broken down.

In the unfortunate event that a hosting relationship breaks down, people and families from Ukraine may present themselves to local authorities as being homeless, or will become imminently homeless. Local housing authorities must continue to consider their statutory homelessness duties in full and take account of the individual circumstances of each household when assessing if the accommodation and match is suitable.

Next steps

Prospective host data will be made available to local authorities through the data shared from Welsh Government via objective connect. It is planned that this information will be updated regularly.

Before people or families from Ukraine can either be matched or re-matched to any host, local authorities should undertake relevant DBS, local safeguarding and accommodation checks in advance of move-in. Post move-in checks are also necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all parties.

In order to develop a viable pipeline of usable offers, it is imperative that local authorities initiate the relevant checks outlined above to enable people and families to find settled accommodation with prospective hosts who have confirmed their interest in hosting a person or family from Ukraine.

This letter will be supplemented with further guidance in due course, including details of the process to record rematches and funding claims but we did not wish to hold up getting this vital source of hosts to you.