08 October 2018 - Irish Refugee Council urge Government to invest in legal aid to help reduce delays and improve decision-making on asylum applications

Irish Refugee Council calls for Child Benefit to be made truly universal by extending it to children in Direct Provision

The Irish Refugee Council’s Pre-Budget Submission calls on the Government to ensure that Child Benefit is truly universal by expanding it to children currently living in Direct Provision. The submission also calls for an increase in the allocation of legal aid to increase the amount of time a solicitor can spend helping a person seeking asylum with their application to ensure that adequate legal advice is provided.

Commenting on the proposal to extend Child Benefit, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council, Nick Henderson, said, 

“While payment is often understood to be a universal benefit, it is not universally applied because children living in Direct Provision are not entitled to it. Instead, they receive a weekly allowance of €21.60 a week, an allowance that has only been increased once since Direct Provision was established in the early 2000s.”

Mr Henderson went on to say, “Every year, over €330 million is paid in Child Benefit to households with an income above €100,000, while children living in Direct Provision are experiencing the very real and acute consequences of child poverty. There is a fundamental unfairness in that and we urge the Government to rethink this policy.”

Commenting on the proposal for greater investment in legal aid for people seeking asylum, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Rosemary Hennigan, said,

“The benefit of a model based on early legal advice is it improves the quality of first instance decision-making, while reducing the cost to the State of appeals and judicial review proceedings. It also reduces the delays experienced by people awaiting a final decision which means less time spent in the Direct Provision system.”

The Irish Refugee Council is also calling for an increase in the Direct Provision payment to €38.74 a week. This is the amount recommended by the McMahon Report, published in 2015, and accepted by the Government. This would be a positive measure, showing that the State is committed to improving the lives of people in Direct Provision.

- ENDS -