Changes to host payments over the winter months
Recognising that many Somerset hosts are facing significant financial challenges, in part due to their generosity in hosting Ukrainian guests, over the forthcoming winter an increase in host payments has been agreed. Somerset County Council recognises that energy bills are rising and it is important to ensure that homes are able to be properly lit and heated over the winter period. Every household hosting guests under the Homes For Ukraine Scheme will see their monthly host payments increase to £700 from the current £350 payments. This uplift will be automatically paid for a 6 month period from October 2022 to March 2023. As host payments are paid a month retrospectively, hosts will see the higher payments go onto their bank accounts from November to April.
I have more than one guest will I get more that £700 per month for the second guest?
In line with the current payments, the enhanced payments are paid to the lead host by household and not by the number of guests they are accommodating. Each household will get £700 regardless of the number of guests they have.
Do I need to apply for the extra money?
Payments will be automatically increased and hosts do not need to complete anything else.
What if my guests move out? Will the £700 cease being paid?
Yes they will in exactly the same way as the £350 payments stop if they leave now.
What happens next April?
All host payments will automatically return to the current levels of £350 per month. Sponsors will only be paid ‘thank you’ payments for 12 months, and so it is worth noting that if your guests arrived in April 2022, there will be no further ‘thank you’ payments once the 12 months have been completed.
Will these increased payments affect my benefits/tax status?
The payments are currently paid as non-taxable income and is not classed as ‘rent’ so there should be no changes to hosts’ financial situation regarding benefits or tax matters. Council tax should also remain unaffected.
Homes for Ukraine Sponsor process
If you are a new sponsor and want to register to participate in Homes for Ukraine:
- Register your interest at gov.uk/homes-for-ukraine
- If you wish to be matched to Ukrainian individual or family you can register here
- The sponsor or the guest fills out the single visa application form online using both parties’ details.
You can find more information here.
Once you have applied:
- The Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) are responsible for the vetting checks that determine the outcome of the visa application.
- While the Home Office and DLUHC carry out vetting checks, information about matched sponsors is passed to the local council.
- The council will then initiate local checks to ensure that support the safe arrival of guests.
- In Somerset, we will send sponsors a request to complete an online form that will help us to plan for the checks that need to be completed.
- Our local checks will not impact someone’s ability to travel and do not speed up the visa application.
What you need to consider when offering a home
While we know all accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition. You will need to make sure that you have a working fire alarm, a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, and a safe gas supply. You should also make sure that your guests have access to kitchen and bathroom space.
Space and overcrowding advice
You should also consider how many people you can accommodate so they have sufficient space. The law states that two people should not be in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who didn’t previously know each other should not be given the same room.
We recognise that every property and household make up will be different and therefore whilst this is the guidance issued by Government we would advise that the property check will confirm the suitability of the home for the match suggested.
Caravans, mobile homes and outbuildings
Caravans and outbuildings will generally not be acceptable accommodation unless they have the correct planning permissions, full amenities (including potable water, appropriate drainage and sanitary facilities, electricity and heating) sufficient space, thermal insulation and sufficient fire precautions.
If you have any questions, please contact Homesforukraine@somerset.gov.uk
Local checks that we will complete
- Property Checks – Before or soon after your guests arrive, you will be contacted by the Property Check Team who will arrange to visit the home you are offering. The Property Team will visit to check that the property you are offering is safe and suitable for your Ukrainian guest(s).
- Permissions – Please see the Homes for Ukraine Scheme: frequently asked questions for permissions required for mortgages, insurance, landlords, renters and leaseholders.
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks – All members of the sponsor’s household aged 16 and over will require a DBS. DBS checks may happen just before and soon after a guest(s) arrives.
- The Homes for Ukraine Business Support Team will contact you to initiate your DBS application. The type of application that you require will depend on the profile of your Ukrainian guests. The replies you provide on the digital form above, will help us to determine which application that you need. However, if you are still unsure, please notify the Business Support Team when they contact you and they will assist you.
- For those who required Enhanced DBS checks, we will arrange to see your DBS certificates once all certificates have been returned by your household.
What happens when your guest arrives
- Once you know that visas have been issued and have an arrival date for your guest(s), please notify HomesforUkraine@somerset.gov.uk. The council may not get notification centrally when your guest(s) arrives.
- Ukrainian guests will be contacted after their arrival and invited to a welfare check. The sponsor and guest will be asked by the welfare provider if a UK bank account has been opened. If not, the sponsor will be asked to prioritise setting this up with the guest and book a welfare check within a minimum of 3 working days to allow for the account to be opened. Sponsors will be requested to contact the welfare provider via a referral form to let them know when the bank account is live or to notify of any problems. If there is a problem in setting up an account, guests can be provided with a text or email voucher code which should be taken to a Post Office branch, and this can exchanged for the £200 subsistence cash payment. If a bank account has been set up the subsistence payment will be paid by a bank transfer. This welfare check will take place in a community setting by Somerset County Council’s welfare provider.
- We are in the process of setting up community hubs for both sponsors and guests in partnership with local charitable organisations. When the hubs are operating, we will share information here.
|Location||Opening times||Key contact|
|CHARIS Refugees, 16-17 Hammet Street Taunton, TA1 1RZ||10am to 3pm Monday to Thursday||Alex Melbourne
07493 410 580
|Yeovil4Family, Yeovil Community Church, The Gateway, Addlewell Lane Yeovil BA20 1QN, UK||Wed 10am to 12pm, Fri 10am to12pm||Hub Manager: Sue Pocock
|Wells City Council and Wells Community Network, Portway Annexe, The Portway Building, Portway Avenue Wells BA5 2QF||Open hours to be confirmed - starting on 19 September 2022||Karen Deverell
07931 644 167
|Frome Town Council, Frome Town Hall, Christchurch Street West Frome BA11 1EB||Opening hours to be confirmed - starting in October 2022||Kate Hellard
01373 475 579
|Diversity Voice, Westfield Church, West Street Bridgwater TA6 7EU||Mon 9.30am to 12pm, Victoria Park.|
Wed 9.30am to 4pm, Westfield Church
Fri 9.30am to 12 pm, Westfield Church
|Hub Manager: Oksana Logvynenko
03000 750 105
|The Onion Collective, East Quay, Harbour Road Watchet TA23 0AQ||Opening hours to be confirmed||Hub Manager: Kate Kennedy
Sponsor thank you payments
Households in the UK will be offered £350 a month ‘thank you’ payment to open their homes to refugees. The district councils will be administering the £350 payment monthly in arrears direct to named lead sponsors bank accounts.
‘Thank you’ payments are subject to all local checks being satisfactorily completed.
The named lead sponsor will need to apply for the ‘Thank you’ by completing an online form. You can only do this when.
- The named lead sponsor has confirmed the accommodation is available for at least 6 months
- Confirmation the guest has moved into the sponsors accommodation
- The property checks have been completed and signed off. The district councils will capture and verify this information on a central database.
- The DBS checks have been completed, and if an enhanced check is needed, this has been presented at a drop-in.
Sponsor payment information
- We will make a ‘Thank you’ payment of £350 one month in arrears to the named lead sponsors nominated bank account from the date the guest moves into the sponsor household, subject to all the relevant checks.
- A sponsor can receive a ‘Thank you’ payment for a maximum of 12 months.
- Lead sponsors are not eligible for the £350 monthly payment if they are charging the guest rent.
- We will backdate the payment to the date the guest moves into the sponsor household.
- The named lead sponsor will receive a maximum of one monthly payment for each residential address paid monthly in arrears, regardless of the number of guests being hosted, and regardless of size or location of the property.
- If a guest leaves the household before the 14th day of the month they move out the sponsors won’t get a payment for that month.
- You will need to apply through your district council. Somerset West and Taunton will be administering all sponsor claims for Mendip District Council.
- The sponsor must tell the district council immediately if their guest moves out
We will share the application process. Please check again for more information.
The district councils are currently working on finalising the online forms. We will share the application process as soon as we can.
Legislation will be introduced to exempt the £350 ‘thank you’ payments made by councils to sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme from income tax and corporation tax.
In the meantime, HMRC will not collect any tax on these payments. Recipients should also disregard such payments when calculating income for the purposes of tax credits.
You can find further detail in this Written Ministerial Statement.
Council Tax information letter – This letter confirms that the Secretary of State has made regulations and issued directions to ensure the Homes for Ukraine Scheme does not affect a sponsor’s council tax status.
GOV.UK Sponsor guidance
GOV.UK have published guidance on Homes for Ukraine which will be regularly updated. Please make sure you read all the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and that you regularly check the website for the latest advice and support.
There is also a Homes for Ukraine: sponsor guidance page. The guidance outlines important information for sponsors including responsibilities of sponsors and how sponsors may support their guests. It covers additional information to the FAQs, and anyone wishing to be a sponsor through this scheme should read both.
This additional guidance covers:
- Other information: checks; thank you payments; interim payments for guests
- Adapting to life in the UK
- Further support
You can find further information on how the scheme works, who is eligible and how to apply. The FAQs also include more information on how to support guests on arrival, and permissions required for mortgages, insurance, landlords and leaseholders.
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 30 November 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 16 November 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 2 November 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 19 October 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 5 October 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 21 September 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 7 September 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 24 August 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 17 August 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 10 August 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 3 August 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 27 July 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 20 July 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 27 May 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 4 May 2022
- Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Update – 25 March 2022
Education places for Ukrainian refugee families
We are currently trying to collect as much information as possible about families arriving in Somerset so that we assist sponsors and their Ukrainian family to find early years, school and post 16 places.
- For early help support – Contact the Somerset County Council Contact Centre on 0300 123 2224
- For preschool children – You will find a form on the Finding childcare page. Sponsors will need to fill out this form and you will then be contacted.
- For post 16 children – Contact Skill Up Somerset at firstname.lastname@example.org. SomersetWorks can also provide personal advice on finding a post 16 placement. You can make a referral here
For school places our priority is to have all children requiring a school place to be recorded on our database and from there we can carry out a school search to establish schools with places in the relevant location and year group. This will enable the Council’s admissions team to direct sponsors to schools most likely to have spaces available in their location. Please bear with us as we undertake this work as it may take some time to work through every individual family requirement.
We encourage sponsors to assist their guest family to visit schools before making an application.
Schools and admissions authorities have a set of admission arrangements and an admissions code that must by law be followed. The in year school admissions process outlined on the Somerset County Council website must be followed.
Applications must be signed by family members with parental responsibility and admissions authorities will not be able to accept applications signed by the sponsor. There will be some instances where the local school or schools are full. In these situations the local authority can provide information on alternative places within statutory walking distance. You can email enquires to: email@example.com
Statutory walking distances are 2 miles up until the age of 8 and 3 miles for aged 8 and over. Where it is not possible to offer a place within the statutory walking distance transport will be provided to the nearest school with an available place.
Parents will also have the right of appeal if refused a school place at their preferred school.
Crowdsourcing funds for Ukrainian guests
We know that many people will be considering how they can support the needs of guests who are arriving, which may include financial donations. We have consulted with the DWP and they have advised that, if you are considering crowdsourcing funds, that the funds could be used for supermarket vouchers, material goods, or other vouchers. If funds are paid directly into a Ukrainian guest’s bank account or gifted to them directly, they may need to declare this to the DWP and this could have an impact on their Universal Credit application.