Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (475)

Robert Dowds

Question:

475. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will give further consideration to the true costs of the direct provision system for asylum seekers, including health care, social welfare and legal costs; and if the direct provision system is still cheaper than providing for asylum seekers in the community when these costs are taken into account. [30674/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The direct provision system is managed by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. For the most part, this represents a cashless system with the State assuming responsibility for providing suitable accommodation for asylum seekers on a full board basis. RIA currently provides full board accommodation and ancillary services to 4,587 persons in 34 centres across the State. The issues raised in this question were examined in considerable detail in the 2010 Value for Money (VFM) Report which is available on the RIA website - www.ria.gov.ie. The Report found that there are no cheaper alternatives to the Direct Provision system. In fact, if we were operating a system which facilitated asylum seekers in living independent lives in individual housing with social welfare support and payments, the cost to the exchequer would be double what is currently paid under the direct provision system. Note that if the State were to allow all asylum seekers avail of full social welfare supports, including rent supplement, the immediate impact would be for all asylum seekers, including those not currently in RIA accommodation, to avail of that financial support. As things stand, not all asylum seekers live in direct provision. Some live with friends or family or provide from their own resources. I have said before that I accept that the length of time spent in direct provision and the complexity of the asylum process itself is an issue which needs to be addressed. The revised Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which I intend to re-publish, should substantially simplify and streamline the existing arrangements for asylum, subsidiary protection and leave to remain applications. It will do this by making provision for the establishment of a single application procedure, so that applicants can be provided with a final decision on all aspects of their protection application in a more straight forward and timely fashion. Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing, I am proposing to introduce new arrangements for the processing of subsidiary protection applications in light of recent judgments in the Superior Courts. My Department, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, is developing a new legislative and administrative framework for the processing of current and future subsidiary protection applications. This work is being given high priority and applicants will be advised of the new arrangements as soon as possible.