Ukrainian refugee hosts left without 'thank you' payments for months amid 'deplorable' delays

Political Correspondent Owain Phillips has been to meet a host family missing out on payments promised by the UK Government

Families who welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their homes say they are still waiting for payments from the council to help with costs - months after their guests arrived.

Sponsors in the Vale of Glamorgan say they’ve spent a “small fortune” on things like beds and mattresses before their guests arrived and have since paid for their travel and even English lessons.

With energy bills rising and no sign of payments coming soon, some hosts who spoke to ITV Wales say they can't sustain the costs any longer and their guest will have to move on.

Hilary Bevington, who took on a “delightful” family-of-three in her Cowbridge home, has hit out at the “deplorable” delays in getting financial help.

Zhenie and his family are staying with a host family in the Vale of Glamorgan. Credit: ITV Wales

She told ITV Cymru Wales: “Help was not as we expected from the UK.

“When we first registered with the council in Barry, they didn't even know there were any Ukrainian refugees here. Then they didn't know they were to receive a £200 payment the day we registered - there’s been big hiccups all the way along.”

The sponsor/host scheme was set up to enable displaced people from Ukraine to live and work in the country for up to three years. 

Sponsors who signed up are required to provide accommodation for refugees for at least six months, while their local authorities issue 'thank you' payments of £350 per month for each sponsor household on behalf of the UK Government.

Hilary welcomed a Ukrainian husband and wife, along with their four-year-old daughter, on May 7 this year.

Hilary Bevington opened up her Vale of Glamorgan home to a Ukrainian family-of-three. Credit: ITV Wales

Since then, she received just one payment from the Vale of Glamorgan Council. ITV Cymru Wales contacted the council on Tuesday (August 16) and Ms Bevington received a lump sum payment the same day.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesperson described the influx of Ukrainian refugees as a "fast-moving situation" which needed checks need to be carried out, additional staff recruited, homes visited and evacuees met at the airport.

They said: "We have been hugely impressed by and are extremely grateful to the large number of Vale residents who have generously opened up their homes to those fleeing the terrible conflict in Ukraine. Their selflessness is truly remarkable.

"The Council accepts that payments to some of these individuals have not been made as quickly as we would have wanted, and I would like to sincerely apologise to those affected.

"Staff are working hard to clear the backlog. A large number of payments will be made in the next few days, with more to follow next week. We have also been able to fast track emergency payments to individuals that raised specific hardship concerns.

"Rest assured we are working hard to address this situation and we hope it will be resolved in the very near future."

While Hilary has now received her payments, she called the 14-week long wait “deplorable” - with many other sponsors still missing out on funds.

ITV Wales heard from several Vale of Glamorgan hosts, who wished to remain anonymous.

One host, who has had a family-of-three staying with them for two months, said: “So far we have received £90 despite the mounting costs of getting (the family) here and providing continual support.

"We have hosts very out of pocket and guests at risk of joining the homeless list after six months in the UK."

'Extremely time consuming and stressful'

A third host from the same area, who has been looking after a family-of-four for three months, is missing more than £500 in payments. 

They told ITV Cymru Wales: “This is incredibly frustrating given that, like many hosts, I had upfront costs to buy new beds, mattresses etc and the cost of living crisis: rising energy bills and rising interest rates on my mortgage.”

Another said the whole process had been “extremely time consuming, and stressful” and put them off doing it again.