I appreciate the Chairman's indulgence on time. I am going to the first meeting on the national Traveller and Roma integration strategy and want to be there on time.
I am very pleased to be here today to discuss my Department’s Further Revised Estimate for 2020. As members will recall, I appeared before the committee on 6 October when I presented the Estimate for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for 2020. I noted at that stage that additional functions were to be transferred to my Department and that I would appear before the committee with a Further Revised Estimate to include the new departmental functions.
The expansion of the Department arose from the discussions on the programme for Government and the establishment of new Departments where it was decided to reallocate a number of functions to this Department. As part of that, I assumed ministerial responsibility for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and a range of other responsibilities coming from the Department of Justice, including gender equality; disability policy; migrant integration policy; Traveller and Roma inclusion policy; LGBTI+ inclusion policy; work-life balance and supports for working parents and caring responsibility; and the funding streams associated with policy work transferring.
The following significant work stream areas transferred into the Department: the Magdalen restorative justice; international protection accommodation services; and international protection procurement services. The second and third of these are in the area of direct provision. The following areas transferred out of the Department: the bail supervision scheme; the Greentown project; and the research evidence into practice project. Approximately €220 million of budget transferred in and €3 million transferred out. In this regard and taking account of the additional €3 million in further capital funding that has been secured, the allocation for my Department is increasing to €1.837 billion, which is an increase of €221 million from the Estimate approved by this committee in early October. My Department will be spending €1.796 billion on current expenditure and €41 million in capital expenditure during 2020.
At the previous meeting, I outlined the pressures that Covid was placing on the provision of services across my Department, with the early years learning sector and Tusla being particularly affected. I recognise that Tusla and the early years learning sector are working very hard at this time. All areas of my Vote have been impacted by Covid as have all areas of society.
The area of accommodation for international protection seekers has been particularly impacted. My officials have been working hard to ensure that users of direct provision centres are properly protected. This has involved a need to identify specific processes and resources, such as activating separate accommodation to prevent and deal with outbreaks of the virus, reallocating shared accommodation to reduce the number of residents sharing rooms, purchasing PPE and enabling older residents to cocoon as well as deploying staffing resources to meet the increased workload. I acknowledge the tremendous efforts made across my Department in response to the pandemic.
I turn to the Vote. Members have been provided with a brief on the Department’s Vote. In the brief, I have set out the funding allocations across the different programme areas along with a summary by subhead to include details of the allocation and any changes over 2019.
In the select committee meeting at the start of last month, I dealt with the children and youth affairs elements of the Vote. I spoke in detail about Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and early learning and care. We then had an extensive discussion on youth services.
The key changes in the Further Revised Estimate are the inclusion of the former Department of Justice elements of the Vote to a value of €120 million; the additional €100 million of Exchequer funding for direct provision; the redeployment on a temporary basis of €40 million from early years, with €20 million going to Tusla and €20 million to direct provision; the transfer out of small elements of the youth justice remit to the Department of Justice; and an increase of €3 million in capital funding to Tusla, early years and the youth sector.
I propose to briefly address the areas of change before opening the debate up to members. The areas transferring into the Department encompass equality, disability and integration. These are very important and challenging areas and with the additional funding being allocated as part of the Further Revised Estimates process amounting to some €220 million of taxpayer investment in services.
Part of these funds will continue to focus on reducing inequality. Programme D, an equal and inclusive society, contains funding streams for areas such as the National Disability Authority, refugee and migrant integration, gender equality, LGBTI+, and Traveller and Roma initiatives.
Most of the funding is for the delivery of accommodation under our international protection services. The allocation to this area is contained in programme E, a fair and efficient system for international protection seekers. The aim of this programme is to provide accommodation and related services to persons in the international protection process. A total of €200 million is allocated to subhead E4 which provides funding mainly directed towards the costs of accommodation. We have seen a significant increase in numbers applying for international protection in recent years. The increased demand has stretched existing dedicated centres and the Department has increasingly needed to rely on other premises such as hotels and guesthouses to provide accommodation on a short-term basis.
The increased demand and use of emergency accommodation have had a significant impact on costs. In addition, the effects of Covid in 2020 have led to additional costs through the need for social distancing, the opening of self-isolation facilities and the purchasing of PPE.
As members know, the programme for Government commits to end direct provision. Work has begun on the White Paper that will outline the new system of accommodation and how we implement that. That paper will be published by the end of 2020.
These changes to bring us to that new system will take time and, in the meantime, sufficient funding needs to be provided for those in accommodation at the moment. I am absolutely committed to moving away from the existing system and developing this new model. I think Deputies and Senators in all parties join us in that.
I am happy to provide any further information Deputies may want on any areas of the Vote as we go through the various subheads. I thank the Chairman and the members for taking the time to listen to my short introduction.