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‘Money no obstacle’ as top civil servant confirms housing and incomes supports for asylum applicants

Dr Fergal Lynch, Secretary General of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs has confirmed details on the kind of supports that will be put in place to assist those within the International Protection system, or asylum process, to live independently in the community. 

Dr Lynch made his remarks during a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Petitions which was discussing the progress being made on implementing the Governments White Paper on Direct Provision.

The White Paper contains a commitment to phase out the current Direct Provision system by the end of December 2024 when the new accommodation is scheduled to be fully rolled out.

This would see applicants moved to ‘own-door’ or Turn-Key housing occupancy after a maximum of four months in a Reception and Integration Centre.

Dr Lynch confirmed that services to be provided to applicants will include an income support approach that will most likely involve supplementary welfare allowance or an equivalent rate of payment for phase two applicants once they leave phase one. This will include Child Support payments.

Phase one is when the applicant is resident in the Reception and Integration system while Phase two refers to when the applicant has been transferred after four months to own door accommodation.

All applicants will also receive comprehensive information about, and access to Legal Aid Board services, health services, education supports, childcare and employment activation and childcare will be provided to enable parents to attend English language classes.

Vulnerable applicants will have additional supports provided to them by NGOs contracted by the Department and all accommodation units will be managed by independent not-for-profit organisations operating on behalf of the State.

Dr Lynch said that his Department is also working in collaboration with housing experts to prepare advice on “the optimal ownership model” for the accommodation, as well as on a funding model to enable approved housing bodies and other NGO’s “to act as our delivery partners for the accommodation and supports element of the new system.”

A total of €28.1 million has been allocated to the Department in 2022 for the implementation of the new model of accommodation.

Fianna Fail TD Padraig O’Sullivan, raised concerns that the budget allocation of €28.1 will “probably will not scratch the surface in providing accommodation for those applicants who are subsequently successful.”

In response Dr Lynch stated:

“We have an agreement with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that in the event we require further funding during 2022, it will be forthcoming. I do not believe a shortage of budget in 2022 or in subsequent years will be an obstacle for us. I am satisfied the money we have for 2022 is a very good start and we will plan on that basis.”

Dr Lynch also confirmed that the Department of Justice is investing in a new IT system and in online applications, to speed up and streamline the processing of applications. The Department of Justice also plans to train more staff to be decision-makers, “to be able to conduct reviews and to carry out reports and to complete reports” on the application process.

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