Homes for Ukraine frequently asked questions
Thank you for your generous offer of opening your home to Ukrainian refugees.
The council is keen to support both you as sponsors and your guests during their time in Darlington.
The situation is evolving.
We will continue to update our FAQ’s as things become clearer and more guidance is available.
Will the Council match me to Ukrainian refugees?
To take part in the scheme you will need the name of a Ukrainian individual or family you wish to sponsor.
The government advises that sponsors should get in contact with them directly.
Prepare to fill in a visa application with all their details and yours.
The council is not able to match sponsors with individuals or families.
Once the matching has taken place the council’s role is to undertake:
- housing checks
- safeguarding checks
- DBS checks
How is the council supporting Ukrainian refugees?
To understand the position across the nation we are working with:
- the British Government
- the North East Migration Partnership
We have formed a local strategic partnership.
This will help us co-ordinate responses to any scenario that occurs in Darlington.
It means we have representatives from:
Other services will support any arrivals as best we can.
We will be responsible for:
- issuing housing checks
- administer DBS checks
- disseminating the government funding linked to the visa scheme
Advice and support is also provided by Darlington Association for Refugees (DAR) [external link]
What should I expect in the first week of my guests arriving?
Those fleeing the war will arrive with a variety of needs.
They have been through a very traumatic experience.
We know from other refugee programmes that they will be very grateful for a safe haven.
It can take a while for your guests to settle into a pattern.
Often the first two weeks are taken very slowly to help adjust to new surroundings.
Please be aware that mental health support will be critical.
We have included key contacts and telephone numbers in the leaflet published.
What things should I consider when opening up my home?
Council officers will be organising short visits to do housing checks.
There will be practical things you need to consider.
This will be especially true if you haven’t had young children in the house for some time.
- installing smoke alarms
- storing medicines
- storing chemicals
- ensuring outside spaces and sheds are secure.
How will the housing check be organised?
Our officers will contact those taking part to make the inspection at a convenient time for you.
There is no need to ring us to arrange.
I understand I need to have a DBS check before I can be accepted as a sponsor, how do I do that?
DBS checks involve a background check on your police record.
This is to ensure the hosts do not pose a risk to their guests.
The Council will contact you about getting the DBS check.
Every adult in the household will need a DBS check.
The council will cover the costs.
The level of DBS check needed will depend on who you have joining your household.
The results of the DBS check will be shared with both you and the council.
I am in rented accommodation – if I offer up my home, will this affect my tenancy agreement?
You will need to get your landlord’s permission.
I am a homeowner. Will this affect my mortgage?
Lenders have committed to help as many borrowers as possible take part in the scheme.
If you have a mortgage on the property you will need to check with your mortgage lender.
The Government is working with the mortgage lenders to simplify this process.
If you are applying to be a sponsor you should check with your mortgage lender for advice before your guest/s arrive in the UK.
Will my house insurance be affected if I open up my home to guests?
You will need to check with your insurance company.
It’s important you think through any possible implications for your insurance before your guest/s arrive in the UK.
The Council are not responsible for any damage that may be caused during your guests stay.
What accommodation would you classify as not suitable?
All accommodation needs to:
- be safe
- be heated
- be free from health hazards
- have safe gas appliances, fittings, flues and have undertaken a Gas Safety check within the last year.
Your guests should have adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities.
There may be extra considerations if you are offering accommodation to children and/or those with disabilities.
What happens at the end of the 6-month sponsorship period
You are committed to hosting guests for a minimum of 6 months, but you may choose to continue beyond the initial 6 months if you and your guest wish.
If you don’t want to continue the arrangement beyond 6 months (or at any time after that), you should let your guest know in plenty of time so they can make other arrangements.
You should aim to give notice two months before the end of the 6 months (or with 2 months’ notice before any later date).
Guests will have access to public funds and, after leaving your home, will be able to rent a property like anyone else.
If they need to, they’ll be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
What happens if I want to stop sponsoring a guest?
If you do not want to continue sponsoring a guest after six months or wish to end the sponsorship early, then you should tell your guest/s as early as possible.
You should ensure your guests have alternative, safe and secure accommodation to go to before asking them to leave.
The Council will work with your guest/s to find alternative accommodation if this is not possible.
Will I get a discount on my council tax? If I am a single person household and already in receipt of a discount will this change things?
You will not receive a discount on your council tax but you will receive £350 each month as a thank you payment.
Single person council tax discounts are not affected by having extra people in your home under the Ukraine visa scheme.
Can I ask my guest to pay rent?
No, you cannot charge rent.
The Government is offering an optional thank you payment of £350 each month to people accommodating guests under the scheme.
The thank you payment is limited to one payment for each residential address.
Payments are made for as long as you sponsor somebody, up to 12 months.
This payment will be made in arrears.
Am I expected to provide meals too or only accommodation?
Only accommodation is expected.
There is nothing stopping sponsors offering meals should they wish.
You are not expected to cover the costs of food and living expenses.
Every guest will be entitled to a £200 interim payment.
This payment is to help with subsistence costs.
It will be provided by the council.
Will my guests be entitled to benefits, if so how does this work and how long does this process take?
Those from Ukraine coming to the country under the visa scheme will be able to apply for benefits and to seek and take up employment.
I’ve heard I will get £350 per month per person for being a sponsor. How and when is the £350 sponsor payment made?
You will receive a £350 per month thank you payment around the 10th of each month for the period of time you continue to host.
Once sponsors have been hosting guest(s) for 6 consecutive months then they become eligible to for a top-up payment that will remain available until the end of March 2023.
This payment will increase from £350 to £600.
To be eligible the following criteria will need to be met:
- Sponsors must have met all initial eligibility criteria for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, including accommodation, DBS and local authority checks.
- The guests have stayed with the same sponsor for a minimum of 6 continuous months (maximum break 3 weeks) after having met the eligibility criteria.
- All the guests will need to still be residing within the sponsor’s property.
- Sponsors will assist in facilitating check-in visits/calls with the guests every month while they are in the scheme to check in on their wellbeing. Sponsors are encouraged to actively try to assist their guest in achieving the goal of entering an independent/private rental arrangement.
We will provide Ukrainian refugees with a one-off £200 payment.
We will process this as soon as possible after you've informed us your guests have arrived.
I have opened up my home already to a Ukrainian family member, is this different to the new Ukraine Sponsorship (Homes for Ukraine) visa scheme?
Are people from Ukraine aged under 18 who are travelling without intention to join a parent or legal guardian eligible to be sponsored for the Homes for Ukraine scheme?
The scheme is open to children who are not travelling with or joining a parent or legal guardian, known as ‘eligible children’ (where sponsor eligibility and parental or legal guardian consent requirements are met).
Safeguarding checks on sponsors must be completed prior to new visa applications from eligible children.
I have offered to sponsor a person from Ukraine who is under 18 and who is not travelling with or intending to join a parent or legal guardian, how long will I be expected to act as a sponsor?
As a sponsor to someone coming from Ukraine aged under 18 who is travelling to the UK and not travelling with or intending to join a parent or legal guardian, you would need to commit to provide accommodation and support, either:
- until they left the UK
- for up to 3 years (the length of their visa)
- until they turned 18 years of age (and sponsorship has lasted for a minimum of 6 months) – whichever is soonest