New housing model a 'groundbreaking' direct provision replacement

ireland
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Digital Desk staff

A “groundbreaking” replacement for Ireland’s direct provision system that would cost millions less has been proposed by a Government expert group.

The new accommodation scheme and asylum process would see applicants spend their first three months in the country in State-owned temporary accommodation centres, according to the Irish Times.

It would also involve a new housing model led by local authorities, with it understood that the proposed model would cost €35.9 million less than what the current direct provision system cost in 2019.

A detailed list of recommendations is set to be published today following an investigation by an expert group whose findings will inform the Government White Paper on ending direct provision, scheduled to be published by the end of the year.

A source close to the report has described its contents as “groundbreaking” to the Irish Times while the expert group, led by former secretary general of the European Commission Dr Catherine Day, has called for the new system to be fully implemented by mid-2023.

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Though the Government has committed to ending direct provision, the new recommendations are not legally binding.

Decisions

The group’s report proposes that first instance decisions on asylum applications be made within six months, as is required under the European Communities recast Reception Conditions Directive which Ireland opted into in July 2018.

Under the new system, asylum seekers would spend up to three months in a State-owned reception centre where they undergo a vulnerability assessment, receive legal advice and begin their application for international protection.

Applicants will then be transferred to own-door accommodation which will be overseen by local authorities through a separate housing budget. This rental scheme should be modelled on the homeless assistance payment (HAP), the group has advised.

Asylum seekers will spend six months awaiting an initial decision on their application and another half year if they need to appeal this decision. If residency is refused on appeal, the applicant should be able to remain in this housing another six months before leaving the State.

The report specifies that single men and women should be given single room accommodation in shared houses and calls for specific accommodation for victims of trafficking.

The report also recommends that asylum seekers be entitled to work within three months of entering the State, those who cannot find work should be means tested for “social welfare-type” support, and unaccompanied minors should remain under the care of Tusla when they turn 18.

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