Ministers Flanagan and Stanton welcome publication of the
Spending Review on Direct Provision
Report prepared by the Department of Justice and Equality
Review provides evidence base for Department’s future planning in this area
Ministers have also published National Standards for Accommodation Centres
The review was carried out by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) unit of the Department of Justice and Equality with key input from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).
15th August 2019
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and his colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, TD, have welcomed today’s publication by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform of the Spending Review on Direct Provision.
The Review noted some of the significant and ongoing improvements that have been made to the system in recent years, while finding that expenditure on Direct Provision accommodation is expected to exceed €120 million this year and is likely to increase in the future. It found the expected increase is due to a number of factors in particular the planned improvements to accommodation standards and the rising number of people seeking international protection.
Reacting to the publication of the Review, Minister Flanagan said:
“The number of international protection applicants we are receiving continues to rise. In the first half of this year alone, we have seen a 36% annual increase in the number of applications received. In these circumstances, it is prudent to have an accurate picture of costs and an identification of factors impacting expenditure.
Noting that RIA is currently providing accommodation and related services for more than 7,000 international protection applicants, but also expressing a determination to continue to improve the situation, the Minister added:
For all good policymaking, I believe it is essential to have a strong evidence base. This is especially true at a time when we are examining the entirety of the Direct Provision system and mapping a plan for immediate improvements and for medium to long-term transitional change.”
Outlining some of the initiatives already underway in his Department, he said:
“A High Level Interdepartmental Group has been established in my Department, led by one of our Deputy Secretary Generals, to review the system. To complement their work, we are setting up a Consultative Group, which will be independently chaired and include representatives from key stakeholders and NGOs working in this area. Today’s Report provides baseline data, an examination of the asylum trends and some EU comparators, which will be a useful reference point for their discussions.”
As part of the ongoing process to reform the system, the Ministers have today published the agreed National Standards for accommodation centres prepared by an Advisory Group including UNHCR Ireland and NGO representatives. Minister Stanton, who convened the Group, outlined their purpose and their importance:
“The National Standards will apply to all service providers contracted by the Reception and Integration Agency to operate and manage accommodation and reception centres. They provide a framework for the continual development of services and supports for residents by improving the quality of care and ensuring consistency across the centres. I want to thank UNHCR Ireland and the NGO representatives who worked closely with us on the Advisory Group to develop the Standards. The implementation of the Standards in conjunction with the continued rollout of independent living across the centres will significantly enhance the daily lives of all applicants and in particular families and children.”
A copy of the Standards and the Spending Review can be accessed through the links at the bottom of the page.
Note for Editors:
The Report has been published as part of a series of Spending Reviews (18 in total) across Government Departments. All have been published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as is the normal way for Spending Reviews.
The IGEES (Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service) unit of the Department of Justice and Equality with key input from the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has prepared the Report.
Key findings of the Review:
- Expenditure on Direct Provision accommodation is likely to increase in the future due to a number of factors in particular the planned improvements to accommodation standards and the rising number of people seeking international protection.
- Expenditure is expected to exceed €120 million this year compared with €78 million in 2018 (54% annual increase).
- Expenditure is impacted by increased demand for accommodation driven by new arrivals and increased accommodation costs, driven in part by the higher standards now required of providers.
- Emergency accommodation use is also putting significant additional pressure on costs this year.
- The move to independent living for residents and increased standards also impacts daily rates in centres (currently €44 per person per day in independent living centres compared to €35.50 per person per day in 2018 in all other commercial centres).
- Substantial improvements have been made to the Direct Provision system in recent years including:
- Increase to the weekly allowance for residents – since 25 March €38.80 per week for adults and €29.80 per week for children.
- Access to cooking facilities – over half of all residents now have access to cooking facilities. The aim is to have all residents in commercial centres benefitting from independent living (cooking facilities and onsite food hall) by the middle of next year through the ongoing regional procurement process for accommodation centres.
- Standards for accommodation centres – developed by an Advisory Group including representatives from UNHCR Ireland and the NGO sector. The Standards will be legally binding and subject to monitoring by January 2021. In the interim, contractors will be expected carry out any mobilisation works required to meet the Standards.
- ‘Friends of the Centre’ Groups – to provide support for residents by local communities.
- Access to the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children.
- Access to the Labour Market – since its introduction last July, over 2,800 labour market access permissions have been granted including over 2,100 permissions to Direct Provision residents.