Embargoed until 00:01 Thursday 14 September

Press Release: Cherishing All the Children Equally: Irish Refugee Council budget submission calls for an inclusive budget including extending Child Benefit or equivalent payment to children in the international protection process

The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) has called for the extension of Child Benefit or an equivalent ‘International Protection Child Payment’ (as proposed in the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision) to children in the protection process as a key measure to combat child poverty and exclusion.

The IRC is greatly concerned that children in the protection process are excluded from Child Benefit and there has been no increase to the Daily Expenses Allowance for families in the last five budgets despite the soaring cost of living and deteriorating standards in Direct Provision. In its Budget 2024 submission made to the Departments of Children; Finance; Social Protection; Public Expenditure and Reform, the organisation calls for decisive action in Budget 2024 to address this.

Children living in Ireland receive a €140 Child Benefit payment per month. Families on a social welfare payment receive a further €42 for each child under 12 years and €50 for each child over 12 years per week. However, children in Direct Provision, regardless of their age or circumstance, receive just €29.80 per week and do not receive Child Benefit.

The White Paper, published in 2021, committed to introducing an International Protection Child Payment, equivalent to Child Benefit, for children in Direct Provision. The government has failed to implement this commitment in previous Budgets, and children in Direct Provision were excluded from all recent cost of living payments and once-off supports aimed at alleviating the difficulties created by inflation. These include the recent double payment of Child Benefit.

In addition to the introduction of Child Benefit or an equivalent payment, the Irish Refugee Council believes the Daily Expenses Allowance (DEA) should be increased at a minimum in line with inflation. The Direct Provision Daily Expenses Allowance has been increased only twice over the 20-year history of Direct Provision.

The call is made during the Children Right’s Alliance’s End Child Poverty Week that urges decision-makers to consider a Children’s Budget – designed to break the cycle of poverty for children and young people.

Irish Refugee Council’s Budget 2024 submission cites new research from the Vincentian MESL Centre, which shows that the current DEA amount is insufficient to meet the needs of people living in Direct Provision, stating that it falls far short of providing for inclusion, integration, education, participation, or their ability to live with dignity. This finding is reinforced in Irish Refugee Council’s forthcoming research which suggests the payment is insufficient, resulting in children and families experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

IRC Chief Executive Officer Nick Henderson said,

“As standards in Direct Provision plummet and the cost-of-living crisis grows, people in the protection process and Direct Provision are particularly vulnerable. Our budget submission gives practical suggestions to achieve some fairness and equity in government policies toward people seeking protection. 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 as committed to in the White Paper on ending Direct Provision.”  

“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. We believe that our recommendations are fair, practical, and can be delivered in Budget 2024.”

Notes for the editors:

  • The Irish Refugee Council’s Budget Submission 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 Irish Refugee Council’s budget work is supported by the One Foundation and the Community Foundation Ireland.
  • Children’s Rights Alliance End Child Poverty Week is from 11-15 September. Day 4 focuses on income and the targeted supports needed in Budget 2024.

Further information or comments, contact:

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

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