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Asylum Seekers

Social welfare cut for new arrivals from Ukraine in State accommodation to take effect in February

Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman will outline fresh plans for six large State-run reception centres for asylum seekers.


LEGISLATION TO REDUCE social welfare payments for Ukrainian refugees to €38.80 a week while they are in State-provided accommodation was agreed at an Oireachtas committee today. 

The reduced social welfare payments will come into effect in early February.

Cabinet signed off on legislation to reduce welfare payments earlier this month.

Under the legislation, Ukrainians arriving into the country will receive the expense allowance of €38.80 per week instead of the current jobseekers’ rate of €232 per week, if they are staying in accommodation centres. 

The minister said that special arrival centres for Ukrainians will cater only for the new arrivals.

The committee was told Ukrainians will receive higher rates of social welfare when they’re living on their own outside of State accommodation. 

During the committee meeting a number of concerns were raised about the accommodation once the 90-day period elapses. 

Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire expressed concerns that refugees would be competing for accommodation in an “overheated rental market”.

The minister said that people will be in accommodation for 90 days and after that period they will have “options”.

She said: “People will have options as to decide what they want to do themselves. Do they want to leave the accommodation, do they want to find accommodation or do they want to return home.

“People have to take responsibility for themselves as well in some respects.”

The move to reduced social welfare supports and limit the availability of state-provided accommodation for Ukrainians comes ahead of a Cabinet subcommittee this week, where Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman will outline fresh plans to acquire six large State-run reception centres for asylum seekers. 

It is understood that the centres will accommodate over 3,000 people. Each centre would have the capacity to take between 450 and 600 people.

Before Christmas, O’Gorman announced that a number of new reception centres are to be set up around the country to house new arrivals. This is alongside the use of hotel and guesthouse properties.

Meals and laundry services, integration support and access to education for children will be provided in those reception centres.

“We have some centres that we will be designated as reception centres that aren’t currently being used at the moment. So Stradbally is an example of one.

“There’s a number of other centres around the country that we’re ready to bring online that will be used solely for the purposes of reception centres. So we believe we will have capacity there,” he said in December. 

Following the incident in Roscrea recently, O’Gorman said building large reception centres were needed as the use properties such as Racket Hall was “unsustainable”.

At a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting this evening Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not want to see student accommodation, nursing homes or housing amenities being repurposed as International Protection accommodation.

It is understood that following the subcommittee meeting this week, the minister will bring a memo to Cabinet within the next two weeks outlining the process around how sites will be selected for the new reception centres. 

However, the Cabinet memo will not state where the centres will be located. 

While it is believed the preliminary work has already begun on where the centres will be located, site selection will begin once ministers have signed off on the plan. 

While sources could not give a timeline as to when all the centres will be up and running, it is expected that a number will be set up in a relatively short time period, with the majority in operation by the end of the year. 

The Journal understands that the location of each reception centre will require Cabinet approval and the locations could be approved in batches, as and when sites are acquired. 

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