Scale of exploitation of refugees unrecorded

By Martin Ford | 19 April 2023

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has no figures tracking the scale of abuse and exploitation of Homes for Ukraine refugees, it has been forced to admit.

DLUHC has confirmed to The MJ that while it records the number of placements that have ended the reasons for the breakdowns are only recorded by local authorities.

As a result, the levels of inappropriate or criminal activity are not being recorded centrally.

Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Clive Betts, said: ‘In a scheme like this where there is potential for exploitation and abuse, you should have a proper monitoring system in place.

‘The principle and the way it has worked for the majority of people has been a success, but there are lessons to learn for future schemes.’

Freedom of Information Act requests covering a fraction of councils supporting refugees suggest more than half have recorded instances of placements ending due to ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by the host. More than two-thirds have escalated cases to DLUHC or the police.

Director of the No Accommodation Network of refugee support organisations, Bridget Young, said it was aware of instances of exploitation and abuse within Homes for Ukraine as safeguarding was not sufficient at the outset of the scheme.

She added: ‘It’s important that the Government continues to learn lessons from Homes for Ukraine and recognises that hosting is a unique, distinct and temporary type of accommodation provision that works best within a structured, holistic refugee protection and resettlement pathway, supported by expert hosting organisations.’

A DLUHC spokesperson said: ‘Councils record when a Homes for Ukraine guest has left the sponsor’s property permanently.

'They should also refer cases of concern to local safeguarding leads, who are best placed to provide support and contact police if they have concerns.

‘We continue to provide support to councils, including from our specialist safeguarding team, if required.’

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