The significant challenges to the implementation of the Day Report (2020) and the subsequent White Paper on Ending Direct Provision (2021) that existed prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be all the more evident as more refugees arrive.
The White Paper committed to a system that aims to support those applying for protection to integrate in Ireland from day one with health, education, housing and employment supports along the lines of the response to those from Ukraine, moving towards new, not for profit Reception and Integration Centres. After the first four months, anyone with a claim still in progress will move to accommodation within the community, families with own door and single people will have own room accommodation. As 3,660 individuals with leave to stay were still living in Direct Provision as of March 2023, the issue of accommodation is increasingly a concern. Other supports such as access to as legal aid and assistance, access to work, education and training, access to driving licences and bank accounts are provided for which are all welcome steps. Social Justice Ireland welcomed the commitment in the Programme for Government to abolish the Direct Provision system and move away from the for-profit model. This needs to be resourced now as a matter of urgency.
The development of this new model of delivery was due to begin in February of 2021 in a phased basis until its completion by December 2024 with estimated capital costs of between €446 million and €672 million and current costs of €175 million. As little to no progress has been made, this needs investment of €500m in Budget 2024. Now more than ever, vulnerability assessments must be prioritised. Social Justice Ireland recommends the introduction of the vulnerability assessments at a cost of €2 million. A further €51m is needed to increase the weekly adult and allowance by 50 a week, under 12 child payment by €20 and over 12 by €50 to allow for families to access basic necessities.
Budget Choices 2024 is available to download here.