If you can offer a home, or spare room for at least six months, to people fleeing Ukraine, you can become a ‘sponsor’ through the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
East Sussex County Council will soon be directly contacting everyone in East Sussex who has been matched with Ukrainian guests. If you have registered for the scheme but not yet been matched, please do not contact us but await more information.
There are also several charitable organisations that may be able to help you connect with refugees looking for homes under the scheme. These include:
If you have a Ukrainian family member fleeing the country, you don’t need to register as a sponsor. They should instead apply for the Ukraine Family Scheme visa.
- Refugee Buddy Project – become a friend and support a newly arrived person seeking refuge
- Ukraine Crisis | Rother Voluntary Action (rva.uk.com) – Community hubs for Ukrainians and hosts
- The Links Project – Hastings Voluntary Action offers support and advice to asylum seekers, refugees and migrant communities
- Sussex Aid for Refugees – Facebook collects donations for children and vulnerable adults and works with aid convoys
Welcome guides for hosts and guests
East Sussex County Council have published two welcome guides.
Both are intended to offer some useful information and links to help people arriving in the area from Ukraine settle into the community.
Either can be translated into Ukrainian (or Russian) by using the translation tool at the top of the pages.
Entering and staying in the UK
Guidance for Ukraine nationals and their family members wanting to enter the UK:
- Welcome: a guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK
- If you’re Ukrainian and don’t have family in the UK
- If you’re Ukrainian and do have family in the UK (how to apply for a Ukraine Family Scheme visa)
- If you’re Ukrainian and are already in the UK with a visa
- Bringing personal items to the UK as a Ukrainian refugee
- If you’re fleeing Ukraine and entering the UK with pets
- If you’re British and in Ukraine
What are the housing options for Ukrainian guests who are living with hosts in Rother?
We are working in partnership with hosts as we support them in their generous commitment to accommodate Ukrainian guests in Rother. We are also committed to welcoming Ukrainian guests to the UK and ensuring that their housing options are made clear.
This guidance explains what options and support are available to hosts and guests.
We strongly encourage hosts and guests to discuss expectations as early as you can, and within the first 4 months of guests’ arrival. This should include talking about what hosts can offer and for how long, what guests’ future intentions are, and how you will plan next steps.
Hosts have committed to provide accommodation to their guests for a minimum of 6 months, but many will be able to continue to accommodate their guests for longer. Whatever you decide to do at the 6-month point, please inform ESCC at least 2 months before you think your situation may change. You can do that by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The options for hosts and guests after six months are:
- Continuing sponsorship
- Finding a new host
- Finding privately rented accommodation
Many hosts may be able to continue their sponsorship arrangement beyond six months. We are asking hosts to continue hosting their guests for as long as they can, as many Ukrainians will not be ready to move on after 6 months and the severe housing shortage in East Sussex and across the UK means that moving on is not easy.
Monthly ‘thank you’ payments to hosts of £350 (increased to £500 between October 2022 and March 2023) are available with an additional one-off payment of £1,000 to hosts who are able to continue hosting for at least 12 months.
We understand that not everyone can continue to host. Where that is the case, we encourage you to work with your guests to develop a plan for how they will move on and a realistic timescale for this wherever possible. If you need help ESCC may be able to signpost or refer you to services who can advise you, please contact us on email@example.com.
Depending on the type of accommodation your host is providing, it may be possible for your host to offer you a tenancy instead.
Finding a new host
If hosts can no longer accommodate their guests, it may be possible for guests to find a new host.
This could be through someone that you already know, or through local groups within the community. Some local organisations may be able to help find a new host. If you are not sure who can help, you can contact ESCC on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If guests do find a new host it is important to let ESCC know as soon as possible and before any move takes place, so they can arrange the necessary host checks and monthly thank you payments. They can only fully support new arrangements once these checks are completed.
Finding privately rented accommodation
If it is not an option to find a new host, guests can look for privately rented accommodation.
This helpful guide will help you understand how to rent in England. This will help guests when they are ready and able to move out of sponsorship into independent accommodation. This guide is available in Ukrainian and Russian.
You can research the average costs of renting in the UK, to help understand what is available and affordable in your situation. There is also information available about rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
Rents in East Sussex are high, compared to average incomes, which means many people find it difficult to find accommodation in this area that they can afford. Many guests may find that accommodation is more affordable and available in other areas of the UK. Guests may need to look for accommodation outside of the South East to find a home they can afford.
Some guests would like to rent a home with another Ukrainian family to share the costs. This can present a good option for small families. However, larger homes are particularly expensive in East Sussex so it may be necessary to look further afield or to consider what can realistically be afforded in the area. Rooms within a shared house are the most viable option for single people.
There are many property apps available that guests can use to find a place to rent in a specific town or city of their choice. These include:
- Socciio – homes to rent within LHA rates in the UK
- Zoopla Property
- Rightmove UK
Financial support to help with renting
When guests have found a property to rent and approached the landlord or letting agent, financial help is available from Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA). SCDA will provide the deposit and rent in advance and where required, a rent guarantor for landlords. To apply for this financial help, go to SCDA and complete and return the application form to email@example.com
Enquiries and a copy of the application form can also be requested by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
This support is dependent on whether the guest can afford the property. An affordability check will be carried out. If the accommodation is not affordable for you, you will need to remain with your host or find a new host for the duration of your stay in the UK.
The property does not have to be in East Sussex to qualify, it can be located anywhere in the UK.
To help with the monthly rent, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the maximum level of benefit that guests may receive in Universal Credit if they require welfare benefits to help with rent. Guests can check the LHA for the area they are looking to move to.
LHA rates (the maximum welfare benefit paid) are generally a lot lower than market rents, which means guests are likely to have a shortfall and will need to make up the difference themselves between LHA and the rent being charged, so they will need to be certain they can afford to live in independent accommodation.
Some guests may be affected by the benefit cap. The benefit cap is the maximum amount of benefits that working-age claimants and their household can receive. A claimant’s housing benefit or universal credit is reduced to ensure that the total amount of benefits received is not more than the benefit cap level. Benefit cap usually affects families with children, who have rent liability and are unemployed.
Guests can check their welfare benefit entitlements including how much help they may receive towards their monthly rent, at Entitled To.
If you are claiming Universal Credit and you now have a tenancy agreement, you will need to log on to your Universal Credit account to report the change and complete the section “where you live and what it costs”.
Are you Ukrainian and at risk of homelessness in Rother?
If you are Ukrainian and at risk of homelessness in Rother, please complete our Housing Options Assessment Form.
Housing is in short supply in East Sussex. If guests become homeless, they will be offered emergency accommodation, often outside of East Sussex. They could stay in this accommodation for a long time before one offer of settled housing is found. This would usually be privately rented accommodation and could be outside of the area.