The Department of Integration is to seek another €10 million for communities where new refugee accommodation is opened, amid ongoing concern about the political fallout from the migrant accommodation crisis.
It comes just weeks after the Government approved an initial €50 million package for communities already hosting people fleeing the war in Ukraine and seeking international protection from elsewhere.
The new fund will be earmarked for communities that will host as-yet-unopened facilities, with many new accommodation centres expected in the months ahead.
It is understood the Department has made the request for the scheme – dubbed the International Protection Community Support Fund – in advance of a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on accommodation and supports for Ukrainian refugees, which is meeting on Tuesday evening.
Sources said the fund would be used to pay for “local structures to help support areas with centres”.
“The idea is to have [funding] available for a wide range of uses to respond to local issues raised when opening these centres, for projects that would be of immediate value to the community,” one said.
The committee will hear there is a “significant short-term shortfall” in accommodation, which has led to 89 individuals being turned away by the State in recent days due to a lack of accommodation. Many were later contacted, however, with an offer of a bed after more were sourced last weekend.
Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman has told colleagues in Government that he will need at least four more large-scale temporary accommodation facilities for refugees, and 75 additional staff to address workforce shortfalls in his department.
Pressures on the system led to the closure of the Citywest transit hub to new International Protection applicants last week.
There is ongoing concern in Government about the shortfall in accommodation and the political impact of the crisis.
Last October the Government ordered a comparative review into the rights that accrue to Ukrainians staying in Ireland in an attempt to establish how other countries are applying the temporary protection directive – the EU rules which enable those fleeing the conflict to access protections and benefits within member states.
Senior sources told The Irish Times on Sunday that the review showed Ireland is an “outlier” in terms of the type of accommodation offered to refugees, notably hotel accommodation. Government sources said there are time limits in other European countries on supports, particularly in terms of accommodation.
The Government has already moved to tighten up some entitlements available to refugees – both those fleeing the war in Ukraine, and coming from elsewhere to seek International Proteiction here.
In late October, the Cabinet approved a plan to implement a “refusals” policy, which meant that those in serviced accommodation like hotels could not refuse more than one offer of alternative accommodation. At the same meeting, it was agreed that those living in hotels would be charged for meals and ancillary services like laundry. A rate of €10 per day for adults for meals, and €5 for children, was later agreed and is being rolled out under the terms of a new contract with providers.
At the same time, those who remain in direct provision after being given permission to stay in the State lose automatic access to medical cards, shifting to a means-tested approach. Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman wrote to those affected at the time. Some have since lost access to the grocery points system in direct provision centres.
A shake-up of the system for managing pledged accommodation was also signed off. Ministers were told at the time that “potential changes to the level of income supports” were discussed and that departments had been told to move to “sustainable models” which include “needs assessment and means-testing as normally apply”.