Two Ukrainian boys at peace demonstration in Berlin, March 2022: “My family wants to live“. Photo: flickr / Stefan Müller

Thank You Payments for hosting Ukrainian families

A powerful signal to Russia that its horrific blackmail will fail

Thank You Payments for hosting Ukrainian refugees will not only cover basic needs but will also send a powerful signal to Russia that its blackmail will fail.

ESI newsletter: Putin's Cholodomor – Homes for Ukrainians – A plan for winter (29 December 2022)

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Until the end of 2022, more than 152,000 Ukrainians arrived in the UK via two schemes: the Ukraine Family Scheme (43,300) and the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (109,000). The sponsorship scheme is also known as Homes for Ukraine.

Compared to the rest of Europe, these are low numbers. However, one aspect of the Homes for Ukraine programme should be an inspiration to the rest of Europe for this winter: Thank you payments for hosting families of £350 (around €400) per month for hosting families. So far, this has worked very well. These payments can help hosts to cover the costs associated with hosting refugees, such as food and housing expenses, and can also be used to support other needs, such as education or job training.

The German NGO Alliance4Ukraine and ESI have launched a campaign for such a scheme to be introduced also in Germany: a Dankespauschale / Thank You Payment of €500 per month per hosting household, to be paid for renewable 4 or 6 months.

This would make sense for Germany even on its own, as there is an urgent need to support existing private hosts. It could also help mobilize more private accommodation as local authorities are increasingly struggling across Germany to host more refugees.
But the most important signal would be to other Europeans. For Europe to be able to cope with more Ukrainian refugees this winter such a programme would also be needed in France, Italy, the Netherlands or Sweden, countries that have so far taken relatively few Ukrainian refugees. If households in Lyon, Milan, Utrecht or Stockholm are ready to welcome Ukrainians, they should receive similar support from their governments. This would also help ensure a more balanced distribution of refugees in 2023. Households in poor Moldova that host Ukrainian refugees should also receive monthly stipends from the EU.

Putin hopes to divide European societies. His instrument is terror against Ukrainian civilians. A Europe-wide campaign that shows that civil societies, backed by governments, are prepared to host more Ukrainian refugees is also a powerful signal to Russia that this horrific blackmail will fail. Until Ukraine can win its war, European states need to be ready to help those who seek safety.