refugees - Ukrainian flag flying at Willaston war memorial (1)

Cheshire East says the Homes for Ukraine Scheme has been successful but some refugees have been re-matched with new sponsors because of failed safeguarding checks or relationship breakdowns.

Dan Coyne, operational lead at Cheshire East for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, said the council had so far inspected 139 of the 204 homes offered in the borough.

Around 4% of those have been rejected either because the property or sponsor was unsuitable.

“We’re also finding it’s not necessarily the council that are failing the checks, but actually the relationship is breaking down between sponsor and guests,” said Mr Coyne.

“They have been few and far between to date, but we expect that is likely to happen as the scheme develops.

“People can genuinely not get on, then there’s how can we provide that pool of resource around that rematch so we haven’t got lots of people in temporary accommodation.”

Mr Coyne was giving an update on the scheme at a meeting of the children and families committee.

He stressed the council had a robust safeguarding mechanism in place which involved not only DBS checks, but cross-checking with council systems and the police.

“It’s important that we provide as much support to sponsors and the guests as possible. They’ve left loved ones behind,” he said.

The committee was told 204 Ukrainian guests had arrived up until last week and the majority of them have received welcome payments.

As a result of the arrivals, there had been 50 applications to primary schools, two to secondary and five for early years placements.

Mr Coyne said it was challenging in some cases to find school places.

In previous resettlement schemes, local authorities would provide homes close to schools with places.

“This is sponsor-led, so we don’t necessarily identify those schools that have got capacity, so finding the provision of education is, as you can imagine, a challenge,” he told the committee.

Mr Coyne said the Homes for Ukraine Scheme had been hugely successful but there are future concerns the council needs to be mindful of.

“We know that sponsors are obliged to provide accommodation for six months but what happens after six months?

“We could have a number of people that become homeless in six months’ time.

“We know that we pay thank you payments for 12 months – that might be another key milestone where we have a number of people and families who are starting to be settled into schools and integrating in their communities that all of a sudden become homeless.”

Crewe councillor Sally Handley (Lab) raised concerns about safety checks on the refugees once they had settled in their new homes, following a report in another part of the country where a guest had been living in an abusive situation.

She was told sponsors and guests have a single point of contact at the council and checks are done monthly prior to giving out monthly payments.

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