Update: Government’s plans for Ukrainian and Afghan evacuee accommodation
Statement by Cllr Neil Houston at Cabinet on 11 January 2023
On 14 December, the Government published its plans around Homes for Ukraine and the support it would be providing to minimise risks around homelessness. On 22 December, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State with responsibility for Homes for Ukraine, sent a letter to the Leader and the Chief Executive of Elmbridge Borough Council with the detail of their plans.
One key part of the package was the Department for Levelling Up and Housing (DLUHC) launching a £500 million Local Authority Housing Fund, to provide capital funding directly to English councils in areas that are facing the most significant housing pressures because of recent Ukrainian arrivals.
This fund will allow them to address the immediate pressures, as well as build a sustainable stock of affordable housing for the future. The intention is that the fund will support the delivery of up to 4,000 affordable homes, including up to 500 larger homes to be initially let to Afghan families currently residing in bridging accommodation in the UK. While helping to fulfil the UK’s humanitarian duties to assist those fleeing war, the fund will create a legacy for local communities by providing a new supply of accommodation for councils with which to address local housing and homelessness pressures.
The council with our partner agencies is currently supporting 210 Afghans (45 households) who are in the bridging hotel.
In addition, we currently have 275 Ukrainians in the borough under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and to date have housed 18 Ukrainian families in temporary accommodation
We’ve received more detail and EBC has been allocated the following funding, should we choose to accept it:
- £3.6m to support delivery of a minimum of 18 homes (mainly for Ukrainians) – this equates to £200,000 per property
- £0.895m to support delivery of a minimum of 2 four-bedroom plus homes for Afghans in bridging accommodation
Officers are working through the details, but it is important to note that the Government are not fully funding the delivery and that for the Ukrainian scheme, DLUHC funding would be up to 40% of the total cost of the properties and for the Afghan scheme, it would be up to 50% of the costs. Hence, the council will either need to provide the remainder of the funding and / or draw in other funds. If we were going to fund the purchase of homes to be owned by the council, then Elmbridge Borough Council would have to fund the difference, but if we were going to facilitate delivery via a housing association for them to deliver homes, then there might be scope for the housing association to cover the other share of the costs through their resources. Officers have made contact with our main housing association partners to gauge their interest in partnering with us on delivery.
The council would need to formally commit to the programme, through a submission to be made by 25 January, and entering a memorandum of understanding by 1 March and government expect the homes to be delivered by November 2023. Given tight timescales, the expectation is that most of the delivery would be through acquisition of existing or new-build stock, rather than building homes through scratch.
We would want to be working with our housing association partners on delivering this, rather than going alone. Our Officer view is that this presents an opportunity which we should grasp as a council and work in partnership with our Housing Associations to deliver these homes.
Officers will bring a report to February Cabinet outlining these schemes in detail and make recommendations as to how the council takes this forward.
Cllr Neil Houston
Portfolio Holder for Housing, at Cabinet on 11 January 2023