Direct provision accommodation costs increased 66% last year
Figures show success rate of 37% for applicants after surge in number of cases
Figures provided by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan show the cost of running the direct provision system went up by €51.4 million last year. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
A sharp increase in the cost of providing emergency beds for asylum seekers last year resulted in State spending on direct provision accommodation rising by two-thirds to more than €129 million.
Figures provided by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan show the cost of running the direct provision system went up by €51.4 million last year.
Provisional data show the number of applications for asylum increased by 30 per cent to 4,782.
According to the International Protection Office (IPO), people from Albania last year accounted for the highest number of asylum applicants at 976, some 20.4 per cent of the total.
People from Georgia made up 13.3 per cent of the total (635 applications), followed by applicants from Zimbabwe 444 , Nigeria 386 and South Africa.
The additional numbers have placed significant pressure on the department to source accommodation. It spent more than €27.1 million on hotel and guest house beds in the 11 months to the end of November last.
Mr Flanagan said the number of decisions taken on applications for asylum increased by 82.5 per cent last year when compared to the 2018 total.
The IPO last year made 2,894 rulings on asylum applications with a success rate for applicants of 37.3 per cent (1,115) compared to a success rate of 65 per cent a year earlier.
A breakdown of the overall €129.4 million spend was provided in a written Dáil reply to Green Party TD for Dublin West Roderic O’Gorman. Mr Flanagan said accommodation accounted for €126.1 million of the total cost of direct provision.
Some €1.2 million was spent on miscellaneous items including grants to organisations; €579,000 went on transport costs; and additional costs of €1.32 million included providing gas, oil and water for State-owned centres.
Mr Flanagan told Mr O’Gorman that there were “5,645 persons being provided accommodation by my department in the 39 accommodation centres located nationwide” as of March 1st.
He said that due to the unexpected rise in applications last year, “these centres are at full operational capacity and, therefore, a further 1,633 persons are residing in 36 additional commercial accommodation premises, hotels and guest houses”.
“Every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants from these temporary locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible,” he added.
Mr Flanagan also said there were 1,013 people living in direct provision who have obtained asylum but have been unable to secure housing.
“Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of accommodation centres and into secure permanent accommodation,” he added.
Mr Flanagan said 837 people granted asylum left the direct provision system last year and that a further 191 had done so to date this year.