Weekly welfare payments to asylum seekers should be more than doubled, a report on reform of the asylum system will recommend.
The report, by a working group established last year by the Department of Justice, is expected to be published at the end of the month.
Four options on increasing the weekly allowance paid to asylum seekers have been considered by the working group. They currently receive €19.10 per week per adult and €9.60 per child.
The report will recommend these be increased to €38.74 per week for adults and €29.80 for children. This would bring the rates into line with supplementary welfare allowance rates when the fact asylum seekers in direct provision are provided with food and accommodation is taken into account.
There are, according to the latest figures from the Department of Social Protection, 4,310 people on direct provision in receipt of welfare payments. These payments cost €2.98 million last year, up to the end of October. This compares with €7.34 million spent on allowance payments to 6,400 asylum seekers in 2009.
While concrete recommendations are made on speeding up the legal process for asylum seekers, the recommendations on improving living conditions in centres are understood to be “vague and imprecise”.
Changes such as private family quarters and the provision of private rooms to single people will be conditional on contractual obligations the Reception and
(RIA) may have with direct provision centre operators.
The RIA runs the direct provision system under the auspices of the Department of Justice.
According to sources, there is scant reference to children’s rights in these centres around such issues as their mental health or social participation.
However, the report does recommend that the Ombudsman for Children be allowed investigate cases in direct provision centres.
The report will also makes specific recommendations on how female asylum seekers experiencing crisis pregnancies should be treated. The report says processes around women’s access to information, travel documents and finances, must be reviewed.
Ms Y, an apparently suicidal asylum seeker, experienced a crisis pregnancy last year. Though she sought an abortion she was unable to access one here or travel for one. Her case highlighted the difficulties female asylum seekers face accessing information, travel documents and finances when seeking an abortion.