Several Ukrainian refugee households have faced homelessness after arriving in Wirral, according to new figures.
Ukrainians fleeing the conflict with Russia can apply for a visa to stay in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
The Family Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals to stay with relatives already living in the UK, and the Sponsorship Scheme, also known as 'Homes for Ukraine' allows individuals to host refugees for a minimum of six months.
But the schemes have been beset with delays to processing visas – and some have warned of safeguarding issues and mismatches between hosts and refugees.
Home Office data shows five refugee households in Wirral were homeless or at risk of homelessness as of June 3 – including two households with children.
The figures show three of these households faced homelessness after the arrangement with their hosts broke down, and one because their accommodation was found to not be suitable on arrival.
The remaining household faced homelessness for another unspecified reason.
According to the data, two households' homelessness duties have since ended – having been rematched to new hosts as of June 3.
Meanwhile, one household had their duties ended by other means not described by the council.
Shadow levelling up and housing secretary Lisa Nandy described the situation as “shameful”.
“The British people showed amazing generosity in stepping up in their thousands to provide the care and sanctuary that these people – many of them families with young children – needed and deserved in such awful circumstances.
“But the Government has failed miserably to play its part.
“Ministers were warned about the risk of refugees becoming homeless on the day they launched the sponsorship scheme, but they were more interested in grandstanding in television studios than doing their jobs to protect vulnerable people.”
Across England there were 660 Ukrainian households facing homelessness as of June 3, including 480 with children.
Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, a group which campaigns for those fleeing conflict, said there were worrying differences in the level of support provided by the two schemes.
“We're concerned that Ukrainians arriving on family visas are running into problems as not all relatives will have the space or the resources to support their family members – which is why there needs to be the same level of funding available to them and local councils as is provided under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”
The data also shows that as of June 14, more than 64,000 visas had been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme for English hosts, with almost 43,000 refugees arriving in the UK as of the day before.
In Wirral, 289 visas had been issued by this point, and 205 refugees due to stay with sponsors in the area had arrived in the UK.
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “All arrivals have access to benefits and public services, as well as the right to work or study, from the day they arrive.
“The overwhelming majority of people are settling in well but in the minority of cases where family or sponsor relationships break down, councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their head.
“Councils also have access to a rematching service to find a new sponsor in cases under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”