R4U urge ECC to speed up support for Uttlesford families hosting Ukrainian war refugees

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is pleased that Essex County Council is finally delivering on its obligation to distribute financial support to families hosting Ukrainian refugees, and that payments are finally being made, but is urging that the authority accelerate its programme after it has been found that host families haven’t been paid what they should.

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Paul Gadd, Essex County Councillor for the Saffron Walden division, said “We applaud the local families who have welcomed victims of the tragic Ukraine war into their homes – but we’ve found that they aren’t being supported when they should be. When acting as hosts, families have increased costs over and above providing basics for their new guests and the increase in food and utilities. Like other landlords, they are required to pay for other things such as electrical and gas checks and safety certificates. To minimise out-of-pocket costs, a national programme is supposed to fund host families to £350 a month.”

Cllr Gadd continued “We found out in early June that ECC had still not put in place the necessary systems to pay many host families, some who have been hosting since March. As soon as residents raised the problem with us, we chased and urged ECC to fix it. It is unacceptable for any delay in payments to families who are doing the right thing, but we are relieved that finally the payments are starting to be released. We will keep monitoring the programme to make sure this continues. I urge any host family in Uttlesford that is still not being paid by ECC to contact me, irrespective of whether they are in the county council area I represent or not. They can contact me via the ECC website.”

Petrina Lees (R4U) Petrina Lees (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Petrina Lees, who is UDC Council Leader, added “It has been heartening to see the ongoing response by many residents in our district to refugees. We’re pleased to say that UDC has been trying to play its part too. At UDC we’ve taken on the obligation from ECC to distribute additional single £200 resettlement payments directly to incoming refugees. These payments are part of a broader programme to bridge refugees over until they can get into the system and find their feet. UDC has also been able to provide temporary housing. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to put in place the necessary systems at the council to do this quickly and efficiently – and we will continue to work with ECC to coordinate activity. While Uttlesford will never be like home for those fleeing war, we hope our rural district allows our temporary residents to feel safe, at peace, and supported while they’re here.”

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