The Children’s Rights Alliance has renewed its call for the Government to increase child payments for children who are international protection applicants, in the direct provision system.
The call comes as research from St Vincent de Paul reveals current supports fall short of a minimum essential standard of living.
On Wednesday the alliance will convene a panel discussion on income supports for children and families in the international protection system, at which the research from St Vincent de Paul’s Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) Centre will be discussed.
The event follows a high-level panel in December with Dr Catherine Day on the commitments made to children in the Government’s White Paper to End Direct Provision.
Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said “there has been no increase to the payment for families in the system in the last five budgets”.
She said “we now have children born in direct provision, spending their entire childhoods in emergency accommodation. It is simply not good enough that we deny them the financial support to afford the very minimum of what we as a society consider to be a decent standard of living”.
She said the research carried out by the Vincentian MESL Centre showed children ordinarily living in Ireland receive a €140 Child Benefit payment per month, and families on welfare payments receive an additional weekly payment of €42 for children under 12 years and €50 for children over 12 years.
“However, children in direct provision qualify for none of these payments and instead must get by with just €29.80 per week,” she said.
The Government’s White Paper on Ending Direct Provision committed to introducing a payment similar to Child Benefit for children in direct provision. However, Ms Ward said: “The Government did the right thing in introducing a whole range of payments and once-off supports for families to help them keep their heads above water in Budget 2023. However, children in direct provision were ignored.”
The panel discussion, to be chaired by Dr Salome Mbugua, chief executive of the migrant women’s organisation AkidWa, will include inputs from the Vincentian MESL Centre as well as personal experiences from two representatives from the Irish Refugee Council youth group and Beth Kinyua, an advocate and parent with experience of the direct provision system.
Speaking in advance of the discussion, Robert Thornton, research manager with the MESL Centre at St Vincent de Paul, said “the research shines a light on the minimum needs and living costs for people living in direct provision, taking account of the areas of need the system should provide for directly. The potential gap that remains between income supports and the cost of a life with dignity is striking.”