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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Alamy Stock Photo
Social Welfare

Varadkar says higher social welfare rates for Ukrainians in State accommodation not sustainable

The Taoiseach agreed with comments made by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys yesterday.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that it is not sustainable to continue to pay Ukrainian refugees in State-provided accommodation higher social welfare payments. 

The Taoiseach agreed with comments made by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys yesterday, who said the situation is “not sustainable in the long run”. 

The Minister said that the situation had changed slightly since the invasion of Ukraine two years ago, and that the decision would need to be reviewed in the future.

Speaking to reporters in Bucharest today, Varadkar said that Humphrey’s comments were correct.

“We can’t have a situation forever whereby people who’ve come to Ireland from Ukraine receive accommodation from the State and also receive full social welfare from the State,” he said.

“That was done because they were fleeing a very difficult situation and a very war-torn situation in Ukraine.”

He said that any change would only apply to Ukrainians in State accommodation and not to the “very many Ukrainians who are providing their own accommodation and working and contributing to our economy”. 

The Taoiseach added that the Government does not have any plans to change the current arrangement yet, “but it will have to be changed at some point in the future”. 

Cabinet recently signed off on legislation to reduce social welfare payments for Ukrainian refugees arriving into the country to €38.80 a week while they are in State accommodation. 

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.

State accommodation will also only be provided for a maximum of 90 days, after which after Ukrainians will have to source their own accommodation or avail of pledged accommodation. 

The Government is understood to be currently working 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.

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.