I received documentation a number of weeks ago, in an envelope with no note or attachments and do not know who the sender is. I have confirmed though that this is information that the Working Group is working from (at least in February 2015). I had sat on this as I did not want to pre-empt any recommendations that were made. Given that the information on the Working Group is now being drip fed, I’ve decided to partly release this information.
There has been a drip feed coming from draft reports of the Working Group on the Protection Process. These have related “fast track” consideration of protection claims for those in the system for over 5 years (and here) and deliberations the Working Group has/is having on access to third level education (for an exceptionally small number) of asylum seekers. One issue, which will be relevant to a much broader group of asylum seekers in direct provision is the issue of their weekly payments. Currently, asylum seekers get €19.10 per week per adult and €9.60 per week per child payment as part of a non-statutory direct provision allowance. The High Court challenge to direct provision allowance, as lacking a legislative basis, failed last November.
This information comes from a Draft Report of Theme Two to the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers. I understand that this is the proposal from the Department of Social Protection.
The payments, made by the Department of Social Protection, have cost the following since 2008:
|Year||DPA Expenditure (in millions)||Number of Persons|
|Until end of Oct. 2014||€2.98m||4,310|
In certain and limited circumstances, asylum seekers may be entitled to exceptional needs payments. From January 2014-October 2014, the following exceptional needs payments were made for clothing, hospital requirements, funeral expenses, bedding, totalling €866,311.
The Working Group has considered four proposals, proposed by the Department of Social Protection, in relation to the direct provision allowance payment:
Proposal One: To recommend an adult direct provision allowance of €38.74 per week, with €29.80 per week per child. On the basis of current persons (child and adults) in direct provision, this would cost an extra €4, 125,573 per year.
Proposal Two: An adult direct provision allowance of €38.74 per week, with a child allowance of €19.20 per week. On the basis of current persons (child and adults) in direct provision, this would cost an extra €3, 266,864 per year.
Proposal Three: An adult direct provision allowance of €25.59 per week, with a child allowance of €12.86. On the basis of current persons (child and adults) in direct provision, this would cost an extra €1, 109,807 per year.
Proposal Four: An adult direct provision allowance of €22.35 per week, and a child rate of €11.23 per week. On the basis of current persons (child and adults) in direct provision, this would cost an extra €555,620 per year.
Given that Working Group deliberations on these options are continuing and are not yet agreed, it appears there is some movement on increasing direct provision allowance. However, there is also some concern as regards disposable income that asylum seekers may have, in comparison to others who may have to rely on social assistance payments. Given that there is no right to work, and the right for asylum seekers to be self-sufficient is wholly withdrawn, others relying on social assistance may not be a precise comparator.
Whatever the working group ultimately recommends, and whatever the Minister for Justice and Minister for Equality decide to do with this recommendation, I would hope that at a minimum direct provision allowance would be increased in light of proposal one. While I fundamentally disagree with the system of direct provision, its controlling and demeaning nature, the total denial of self-sufficiency and indignity foisted upon residents within enclosed institutional settings, such an increase may go some way (and admittedly not as far as I would like) to enhancing respect and dignity for those in direct provision.