5 October 2023, For immediate release 

Press release: New research sheds light on income inadequacy faced by children and families living in international protection accommodation 

New research published today by the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) explores the experience of families and children living in Direct Provision. Undertaken by independent researcher Sarah Cid, commissioned by the IRC and funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, it consisted of a multilingual survey of parents with 192 responses, representing over 9 countries of origin, and included 9 focus groups with mothers living in Direct Provision centres across the country. The sample included a variety of experiences with participants living in varying standards of accommodation and in rural and urban locations 

The research found that basic needs are often unmet. Insufficient nutritional support, transportation limitations, partial healthcare coverage, a lack of organised leisure activities, and difficulties accessing essential amenities are among issues facing participants.  

While the Daily Expenses Allowance (DEA) is designed for personal and incidental expenses when basic needs are being met, participants are spending a considerable portion of the funds on clothing, medicines, toiletries, transportation, and items for their children such as diapers, wipes, and school lunch supplies. Key findings include that 88% of parents surveyed felt that the DEA is insufficient to cover basic needs such as food and healthcare. Over 80% of respondents indicated that the DEA is insufficient to cover many of their children’s basic needs. 49% of respondents stated that the child DEA is spent on meeting childcare related expenses. 84% stated that the DEA is insufficient to cover childcare-related needs and 57% of respondents face challenges in saving money for future needs or emergencies. 

Many participants stated that their children were being left behind and excluded from participating in social and extracurricular activities. One mother reported saving money for two weeks to pay for registration with the local football club and having to wait until the next DEA payment to pay the balance. Others described being unable to pay for trips and excursions organised by the school. Some noted disappointments caused by having to consistently choose to fulfil basic needs over children's hobbies and interests and the barriers to integration this poised. Many parents stated that they struggle to afford to bring their children outside of their accommodation during the summer holidays.   

The research concludes that the exclusion of children in the protection process from receiving Child Benefit directly impacts the well-being, integration, and social development of these children and families within Irish society. 

IRC Chief Executive Officer Nick Henderson said:  

The findings are in line with what we have been seeing in our work.  Standards in Direct Provision are plummeting and the cost-of-living crisis growing, leaving people in the protection process and Direct Provision particularly vulnerable. Child Benefit is described by the Department of Social Welfare as a ‘universal benefit,’ yet it is not universally paid. Budget 2024 is a huge opportunity for this government to ensure that this benefit or an equivalent payment becomes truly universal, by reaching those children currently excluded or introducing an equivalent payment.”   

“In addition, we are urging the government to include an increase of the Daily Expenses Allowance in line with inflation. It is completely inappropriate to increase welfare payments across the board as a cost-of-living measure, while ignoring this particularly marginalised group. People seeking protection rely on the DEA to afford necessities like sanitary products and public transport, often from very rural locations. 

The findings build on St Vincent de Paul’s (SVP) research, which used the Minimum Essential Standard of Living methodology. The SVP research found that two-child families in Direct Provision have an income shortfall of approximately 50%, translating to €117 to €140 less than what is required each week. These figures were calculated from a best-case scenario, where basic needs, chiefly those of nutrition, transport, and hygiene, were being met by accommodation providers.  


Notes for editors  

  • The Report, Living in International Protection Accommodation: Exploring the Experiences of Families and Children in Direct Provision, is available here. 

  • An infographic of the research findings is available here. 

  • The Irish Refugee Council’s Budget Submission published recently is available here. 

  • A White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service available here; the paper states: “Applicants in Phase Two who have dependent children will also receive an additional monthly payment per child in the form of an International Protection Child Payment from DCEDIY.” 

  • Child Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection are entitled to receive Child Benefit, children in the international protection process are not entitled to Child Benefit.  

  • Vincentian MESL Research Centre, Estimating the MESL costs for families in Direct Provision, Working Paper Prepared by: Hannah Boylan, available here 

  • Irish Refugee Council’s Now I Live on the Road and Accommodation Crisis Report also call for a Refugee Response Director to oversee all issues pertaining reception conditions including inclusive welfare payments are available here and here. 

  • The Daily Expenses Allowance is the weekly allowance given to people seeking protection. The rate of the allowance is €38.80 per week for an adult and €29.80 per week for a child. 

  • The Irish Refugee Council’s budget work is supported by the One Foundation and the Community Foundation.  

Further information or comments, contact: 

Nick Henderson (CEO) 085 858 5559/ [email protected]  

Wendy Muperi (Communications Officer) 085 855 0434/ [email protected]