Asylum seekers to get extra €2.50 per week to live on
Clothing and footwear allowance for school children to rise
People protest as part of a national day of action in 2013 to end direct provision. Photograph: David Sleator
People living in Ireland’s direct provision are have their weekly welfare payments increased, in a move announcd on Wednesday by Taoiseach-elect Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.
The increase of €2.50 per week for adults and €6 per week for children will benefit more than 4,000 adults and children living in direct provision. Mr Varadkar and Ms Fitzgerald will seek Cabinet approval for the increases.
The rate for children will rise from €15.60 to €21.60 per week and for adults from €19.10 to €21.60 per week from August.
Mr Varadkar said: “ The Tánaiste and I believe this is an important measure. The increases will benefit everyone living within the Direct Provision system by providing more disposable income.”
The cost of the increase will be in the region of €320,000 and will be met from the Department of Social Protection’s budget for 2017.
The full year cost will be €770,000.
The Direct Provision Allowance was introduced in 2000 at the weekly rate of IR£15 (€19.10) per adult and IR£7.50 (€9.60) per child.
The adult rate has remained unchanged since its introduction. The child rate was increased in January 2016 by €6 per week to its current rate of €15.60.
The Department of Social Protection is currently paying a Direct Provision Allowance to 3,060 adults and 1,190 dependent children.
Mr Varadkar said he would be reviewing the current working ban imposed on asylum-seekers.
“ I hope this measure will be seen as a small gesture to migrants that the Government will be more compassionate to their needs and sensitive to their aspirations in the future.”
Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar has also confirmed his intention to increase the clothing and footwear allowance for eligible school children.
It will rise from €100 to €125 for children aged four to 11 and from €200 to €250 for children aged 12 years and over.
This brings the total allocation for the allowance this year to €47.4 million, an increase of €10 million on what was originally proposed for 2017.
About 108,000 families will benefit from the increase from July.
“I have also adjusted the income limits to ensure that increases in social welfare announced in Budget 2017 won’t affect people’s entitlement to the Allowance, which will be paid in mid-July to give parents time to prepare financially for the new school year,” Mr Varadkar said.
“The additional costs will be met from within the Department’s allocation for 2017 in which there is an underspend due to rapidly falling unemployment levels.”
The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomed the announcement, saying it as a major breakthrough for the most vulnerable groups of children.
Chief executive Tanya Ward said she hoped this was a proactive step by the incoming Taoiseach.