Giving asylum seekers independence and taking their children out of poverty would save over €8 million says Irish Refugee Council

Posted On: 12 August 2013

Over €8 million in savings could be made through changes to the policy for providing for asylum seekers says the Irish Refugee Council.  In its pre-budget submission, the Council proposes extending universal child benefit to asylum seeker children and granting the right to work, or welfare and rent allowance payments, to adult asylum seekers who have been waiting for three years or more.  59% of people in the Direct Provision system have been there for three years or more.

Sharon Waters, Communications and Public Affairs Officer with the Irish Refugee Council, says:

“The reality is that the current policy of reception, known as Direct Provision, is a money-making venture for the private businesses who have been awarded contracts to run accommodation centres. Between 2000 and 2010, the State paid €655 million to these contractors, while asylum seekers lived in chronic poverty.

“The €8 million in savings we have calculated is only the tip of the iceberg.  We cannot begin to calculate what this proposal would save in terms of human distress, physical and mental health and the potential for each man, woman and child in Direct Provision to contribute to the Irish economy.”

In 2012, the cost of the Direct Provision system was just over €70 million.  Under the IRC proposal, the cost of child benefit for every child in Direct Provision plus social welfare allowance and rent allowance for every adult who has been in Direct Provision for three years or more would cost approximately €61.5 million.  The full text of the submission is available at

“This Government is proposing to abolish the Seanad in order to save €20 million.  Our proposal would achieve at least 40% of that target and would genuinely transform the lives of very vulnerable and impoverished families,” adds Ms Waters.




Sharon Waters         / 085 8585 510


  • The system of Direct Provision was set up on an administrative basis in 2000 to cope with a significant increase in the numbers seeking asylum in Ireland.  It was intended that asylum seekers would spend approximately 6 months living in accommodation centres.
  • The majority of asylum seekers have been resident in Direct Provision centres for over three years and a significant number for more than seven.


Duration of   stay in Direct Provision[1]

Less than 1   yr 1 – 2 yrs 2 – 3 yrs 3 – 4 yrs 4 – 5 yrs 5 – 6 yrs 6 – 7 yrs 7 + yrs
956 463 523 580 758 658 423 422


  • Under the Direct Provision system, asylum seekers live in hostel-style accommodation where they receive three meals a day but have no access to cooking facilities and cannot plan and manage their own and their children’s diets.   Asylum seekers are not allowed to work but receive a weekly allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child.
  • The value of contracts to private businesses to operate Direct Provision centre was €655 million from 2000 to 2010.  The estimated expenditure for 2012 was €63.5 million

[1]  RIA Annual Report 2012, p.12.