The pilot project, which will run for 3 years from August 2023, is the first of its kind in the UK. A delivery partner will match eligible refugees with a rental deposit drawn from a pot donated by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The majority of deposits will then be recycled back into the scheme at the close of the tenancies, enabling further refugees, to be assisted. There is currently no other national rental deposit scheme aimed at refugees in the country.
MTVH Migration Foundation are managing the development of the project, with LandAid providing consultancy support during the development phase from its Programme Advisors, Ruth Grove-White and Amanda Keane.
It is hoped that the pilot will assist at least 125 refugees during the 3-year period although this could increase depending on the level of demand and capacity. If successful, the pilot could be scaled-up significantly, providing a unique solution for many more displaced people coming to the UK into the future.
An evaluator will be engaged in the first year of the pilot to assess the impact of the model, and particularly the potential for it to be extended to other groups including young people at risk of homelessness.
Ruth Grove-White said: “Currently, there are large numbers of refugees living in temporary accommodation in the UK, with no permanent place to call home. This includes many of the 130,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the UK since February 2022 who continue to live as guests in private households, and around 9,000 resettled refugees from Afghanistan, who are currently living in hotels because permanent accommodation cannot be found.
“Living in temporary and precarious circumstances prevents refugees from building their lives here in security, posing a particular risk to the future of the young people in their families.
“The project has been designed based on evidence from refugee charities showing that the requirement to provide upfront rental deposits is an important barrier for many refugees in accessing the private rented sector. Other barriers include the requirement to have a rental guarantor, and the low availability of affordable private rented accommodation across the UK.”
Dominic Briant, from MTVH Migration Foundation said: “MTVH believes everyone should have a home and the chance to live well. This new approach to rent access is an important step towards refugees being able to fully participate in normal life and work. With time, this approach could be a sustainable way of relieving social housing pressures.”
Steve Harriott, from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme said: “We are supporting this initiative because we recognise the real difficulties that many refugees have in accessing the private rented sector. We feel we can make a positive contribution in relation to the deposit and also through our sister charity, the TDS Charitable Foundation, in helping to train refugees in their rights and responsibilities as tenants.”
The team hope to engage a delivery partner and project evaluator for the project over the next few weeks, before the scheme commences at the end of the summer.