Proposed increase to allowance not enough to improve the lives of children in direct provision

Tue, January 5, 2016

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#timetoact

The proposal being submitted to Cabinet today to increase the allowance to children in direct provision to €16.60 will not be enough to improve the lives of children living in direct provision.

The proposed increase, reported in the Irish Times yesterday, falls short of the recommendation of the Working Group on the Protection Process and Direct Provision, which recommended that the children’s payment be increased to €29.80 and the adult payment be increased to €38.74.

In addition, no rationale has been provided by Minister Burton and Minister Fitzgerald to account for the increase they have proposed to Cabinet.

The recommendations made by the Working Group, which included representatives from the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Protection, were grounded in the fact that the proposed increases would bring the payments back into line with the current Supplementary Welfare Allowance and further account for fact that asylum seeking children have not been entitled to claim Child Benefit since 2004.

“Although we obviously welcome any improvement to the existing, insupportable, institution of direct provision, a €7 increase per week per child will do very little to improve the lives of children or their parents,” states Nasc CEO Fiona Finn.

“Despite claims by Minister Ó Riordáin that this increase is a ‘first step’ in implementing the recommendations of the Working Group, Nasc are deeply concerned that the increase is not in line with the Working Group’s recommendations and rationale, and that there seems to be no indication of a corresponding increase to the adult payment.”

“We do not share Minster Ó Riordáin’s confidence that the recommendations of the Working Group will be ‘fully implemented’, since the Government has to date ignored every opportunity to do so. This is particularly true in respect of the International Protection Bill, 2015,” comments Ms. Finn.

The Working Group, which reported in June 2014, made several key recommendations on improvements to the protection system and direct provision. The recommendations in the Report were fully costed and shown to save the State money in the long run.

All of the recommendations were agreed by consensus after 8 months of deliberations by Working Group members, including all relevant Government Departments, NGOs, UNHCR and experts in the field of asylum and refugee law.

“This piecemeal, lowest-common-denominator ‘cherry picking’ of recommendations must stop. Asylum seekers have waited long enough. The Government must act now to fully implement all of the recommendations in the Working Group Report to ensure that it lives up to its promise to asylum seekers to protect their dignity and human rights,” ends Ms. Finn.

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