Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (517)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

517. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if residents in a direct provision centre (details supplied) in County Donegal will be provided with vouchers for food instead of the points system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7860/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The new accommodation centre in Letterkenny for International Protection applicants was procured through a tendering competition that was conducted through the Government’s Procurement Portal www.etenders.gov.ie. The specifications for this tender included the provision of food and household items through a points system by way of an on-site foodhall whereby residents can obtain the items they need at no cost to themselves. Under the terms of the contract the service provider is also required to consult regularly with residents to help ensure the produce available in the in-house store is both ethnically and culturally appropriate to their needs.

This model was used in all eight of the regional tender competitions for the provision of such accommodation, of which the Borders Region was the last chronologically to take place. The provision of an onsite foodhall was crucial to the bid from all successful tenderers and would have been factored into their costs. Tenders were evaluated on the Most Economically Advantageous Tender model, whereby bids are assessed on a combination of the quality of the proposal of service delivery and price. Quality of the proposal of service delivery was 60% of overall marks while price was 40%.

It would undermine the integrity of the procurement process if bidders were asked (either individually or collectively) to change the service delivery model from that contained in the specifications following assessment and contract award and would leave the process open to legal challenges from any unsuccessful bidders who could claim that they may have been successful had they been allowed to submit bids based on a voucher system or other proposal rather than a foodhall.

Port Road, Letterkenny will be the 30th accommodation centre to come through the tendering process. All of the accommodation centres that have been procured through this process provide residents with items through the points based foodhall system. The International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department understand that the foodhall system works very well and residents are generally satisfied with the system.

Additionally, residents will be in receipt of a daily expenses allowance and many residents will qualify for permission to access the labour market and will do so. Residents are of course free to spend their income wherever they see fit, including in local shops.