Homes for Ukraine: information for customers

The conflict in Ukraine is worrying us all, and we understand that many Stonewater customers want to do their bit to help those people fleeing Ukraine to settle here in the UK.

What is the Homes for Ukraine scheme?

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was created by the British government to help people fleeing Ukraine to come to the UK. They’ve opened registration for people to become sponsors and provide accommodation for as long as they can, with a minimum expectation of 6 months. You can find full details on the gov.uk website here.

Can I take someone in under the Homes for Ukraine scheme?

If you’re a Stonewater customer with a spare room, and you’re wondering if you can take in a refugee as part of this scheme, the answer is generally yes.

Some of our tenancies and leases may say you’re not allowed to take in a lodger but we will check with other parties and waive these conditions if a customer wants to sign up to this scheme.

If we’re not the owner (freeholder) of the property, we’ll need permission from them before we can give the go-ahead. If that’s the case, we’ll let you know when you contact us.

To make sure there won’t be any complications with you taking in a refugee as part of this scheme you'll need to contact us on customers@stonewater.org so we can check out a few things with you first, like making sure you won’t be overcrowded.

We’re making this process as quick and simple as possible, so once you’ve got a written ‘yes’ from us, you’re ready to take the next step. We aim to get back to you in five working days.

What do I need to consider?

Inviting someone into your home is a very personal decision, and you need to make a choice that’s right for you and your household.

There are some conditions you’ll have to meet to be eligible for the scheme, for the latest information, visit the gov.uk website.

We’ve put together some other things you might want to consider below.

Do I have the space?

You need to have a spare room to sign-up to the scheme. Having someone living in your home with you is a big commitment, so think about whether you have enough space and how many people you can comfortably accommodate.

Can I afford it?

The Government has said households opening their homes to refugees under the Homes for Ukraine scheme will receive a £350 per month ‘thank you’ payment which will undoubtedly help. People coming over from Ukraine will be eligible for benefits, and you’re not expected to pay for meals (Though you are welcome to if you’d like to).

You’ll also need to think about increased costs like your energy bills, and you might need things like extra furniture and bedding.

We’ve partnered with the Longleigh Foundation to help Stonewater customers cover any extra costs from taking part in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. From Monday 21st March 2022, Stonewater customers will be able to apply for up to £1000 to help with the direct costs of supporting family members or refugees from Ukraine, such as:

·       Food and household costs.

·       Furniture to help to set up a bedroom

·       Clothes

·       Books or toys for children.

·       Tickets for public transport.

If you’d like to apply contact Stonewater on customers@stonewater.org and a member of our team will help you to fill out the application. You’ll need to show us the supporting evidence in line with the Government requirements in place at the time the application is made.

Would my benefits be affected?

The government has said that the £350 monthly payment you’d receive for taking someone in will not affect any of your welfare benefits.  The Government has not yet confirmed whether it will affect the under-occupancy penalty (bedroom tax).

What about my Insurance Policy?

Many providers are extending their policies to cover this scheme, but you’ll need to check with your provider to see if your policy is affected.

What is Stonewater doing to help?

We take our role of supporting communities, especially at times of crisis, very seriously. We reach out to our partners (such as local authorities and other housing organisations) to see what we can do to help. This includes offering our homes, volunteering and supporting colleagues who are always keen to help.

We’ve been working proactively with local authorities across England to provide homes for refugees for some time and we’ll continue to do this. We’re also supporting customers and colleagues who wish to open their homes to the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

My family is fleeing Ukraine and I want to help

If your family is directly affected by the conflict, we encourage you to seek advice from the government in the first instance. The Red Cross have also created some helpful resources for people who have family in Ukraine - you can find them here.

Where can I find more information?

The situation is changing very quickly. For the most up to date information, keep an eye on the Homes for Ukraine webpage, and FAQs.