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Cabinet told 500 refugees arriving from Ukraine per week, as social welfare rates set to reduce

The legislation is set to reform social welfare rates will come into effect by late January at the earliest.

AROUND 500 REFUGEES from Ukraine are arriving into Ireland per week, Cabinet was told today. 

Ministers today signed off on legislation to give effect to the government decision taken before Christmas to reduce welfare payments for new arrivals from Ukraine. 

Under the legislation, which has yet to make its way through both Houses of the Oireachtas, 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.

In December, a decision was also reached to introduce a new 90-day limit for state accommodation for new arrivals. 

Neither of the measures are currently in effect at the moment. 

The changes will only apply to new arrivals into Ireland, with the legislation to amend social welfare payments set to come into effect in late January at the earliest. 

While legislation is required to amend the social welfare rate, no such law is needed to establish the new accommodation time limit. 

Sources have said it is the government’s intention to implement both at the same time as a package, once the legislation passes. 

The legislation brought to Cabinet today by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys will also require those receiving the new weekly payment to engage with the Department of Social Protection’s Public Employment Services (Intreo) where they will receive training and skills support to help them into employment.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last year that the government had taken such decisions in a bid to “slow down” the number of Ukrainians coming to Ireland.

However, it is understood that for the last few weeks the numbers have maintained at around 500 refugees arriving from Ukraine each week. 

When asked if the government had a targeted figure in mind as to what it wants the numbers to fall to, a spokesperson for government stated “there isn’t a target”, adding that the policy and legislative changes are aimed to bring Ireland “in line” with what is on offer in other EU countries. They reiterated that the government continues to find it difficult to find accommodation for new arrivals. 

The Government believes the proposed changes will result in a fall off in the number of arrivals coming to Ireland, particularly from secondary countries, whereby Ukrainians arrive into the country have already been located in another EU country.

Speaking at Irish Farmers Association event in Dublin this evening, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the government does not have a particular figure or target.

He said roughly 100,000 Ukrainians have come to Ireland, with about 20,000 of that figure having left the country. 

“We have brought what we offer more into line with what’s done in other Western European countries, for reasons we’ve explained in the past. And for that reason, we would expect to see a certain reduction in the number of people coming from Ukraine,” he said, though he added that it was impossible to predict how many that will be, stating that it will of course depend on what happens here but also in Ukraine in the months ahead.