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Half of adults who fled Ukraine want to stay in UK even when return safe – ONS

Most who said they would stay cited more opportunities for work in the UK as a reason, the Office for National Statistics said.

More than half of adults who fled Ukraine due to the war want to stay living in the UK even when it is safe to return to their home country, a new survey has suggested.

Some 52% said they intend to live in the UK most of the time when they feel it is safe to return to Ukraine, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The majority of these people said this decision was because there are more opportunities for work in the UK, the ONS said.

The survey, published on Friday, was based on data collected from 10,709 people aged 18 and above between 27 April and 15 May 2023.

All those surveyed had been granted a visa under the Government schemes launched in the wake of Russia’s invasion, namely the Ukraine Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine scheme or Ukraine Extension Scheme.

The latest Government data, up to June 27, showed that 233,600 Ukraine scheme visas has been issued, and 178,900 visa-holders had arrived in the UK.

The ONS’s UK humanitarian response insight survey found that 70% of people described their personal connection to the UK as being “somewhat strong” or “very strong”.

The most common reasons given for intending to stay in the UK were that there are more opportunities for work (60%), they want to be in an English-speaking country (48%), and the belief that the quality of life is better in the UK than it will be in Ukraine (47%).

Those more likely to report intending to live in the UK even when Ukraine is considered safe tended to be aged between 18 and 49, paying for their own accommodation, employed or self-employed and proficient in English.

Just over a quarter (28%) of adults said they intend to return to Ukraine when they feel it is safe to do so, with 68% of those people saying they would leave the UK as soon as they felt it was safe to.

Among those who said they were unsure as to which country they intend to live in most of the time, the majority said greater clarity for visa options for staying in the UK (60%) and more information on what life would be like in Ukraine (53%) would help them to decide.

The most common industries for those surveyed who are working in the UK were hospitality (26%), manufacturing or construction (13%) and food production such as agriculture and farming (10%).

More than half (58%) of adults work in a different sector in the UK, compared with the sector in which they were working in Ukraine.

In their home country, the most common industries adults worked in were teaching and education (12%), information technology and communication (12%) and retail (12%).

Some 52% of adults said they were now working in the UK, lower than the 77% who had been working when in Ukraine.

Fewer adults (3%) were unemployed and actively seeking work when in Ukraine, compared with a quarter (26%) of adults now unemployed in the UK, the ONS said.

It added that of those not currently working in the UK, almost two thirds (63%) were very likely or likely to look for work in the next 30 days.

Just over a third (34%) of adults have changed address since coming to the UK, the survey found, most commonly because they can now afford to live in their own accommodation without being hosted (25%).

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