Shropshire Star

Shropshire Council to spend £7m on housing for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees

Up to 30 new homes could be provided in Shropshire for homeless refugees displaced by conflict under an ambitious £7.2 million plan put forward by Shropshire Council.

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The scheme will help provide homes for Ukrainian refugees in the county

If councillors agree, the authority says it aims to secure all the properties by November.

The homes will initially be used to house displaced families who have fled war-torn Ukraine and Afghanistan, but the council says they will later be utilised to help ease the council’s wider housing pressures.

It comes as this week marks the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Shropshire Council said that it has received £3.2m from the Government’s Local Authority Housing Fund towards the project, but will have to return any funds which have not been spent by the November target.

A report to be considered at a meeting of the full council next week sets out plans to bolster the fund by borrowing a further £3.2m and using £750,000 of ‘section 106’ money collected from housing developers.

The report, from Mark Barrow, the council's director of place, says 26 homes of two or more bedrooms will be purchased for Ukrainian refugees who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, along with four homes with a minimum of four bedrooms for homeless Afghan families who are currently living in hotels.

All homes will be new builds or nearly new, and will be managed by STAR Housing, the council’s arm's-length social housing provider.

Mr Barrow’s report says the Government fund, which has seen £500m allocated to 182 councils across the country, was set up to “reduce the impact of new arrivals on existing housing pressures”, and help councils to increase the number of affordable homes in their areas to address local homelessness needs in the longer-term.

There are currently 14 Ukrainian households being accommodated in Shropshire bed & breakfasts, with that number expected to rise, Mr Barrow says.

He adds: “Although Shropshire does not contain any bridging hotels for Afghan households, families are accommodated in the West Midlands and it is important for the council to assist where possible in providing settled accommodation.”

The report concludes: “Given the pressures on the council surrounding its homelessness duties, and that when the initial need of providing Ukrainian and Afghan refugees a home, subsequent lettings can be used to meet the council’s wider housing and homelessness pressures, it would seem pragmatic to accept the full allocation of capital funding to acquire the target number of homes and use best endeavours to deliver.”

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