“Children living in direct provision are being left behind” according to panel discussion on income supports for children and families in the international protection system.
Today, a panel discussion, convened by the Children’s Rights Alliance, on income supports for children and families in the international protection system has heard details of new research in this area as well as the experiences of young people living in direct provision.
The Vincentian MESL Centre at the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) presented new research that sets out to estimate the cost of a minimum essential standard of living for children and families living in the international protection system.
The analysis finds that for each individual family member living in Direct Provision accommodation, the income supports provided are inadequate to meet their estimated MESL (Minimum Essential Standard of Living) need, and that this inadequacy is compounded at household level:
A One Parent, Two Child household living in Direct Provision accommodation
▪ Weekly MESL need is estimated to be €228.30
▪ Average weekly income amounts to €110.80
▪ Income covers 49% of estimated MESL need; shortfall of €117.50 per week
A Two Parent, Two Children household living in Direct Provision accommodation
▪ Weekly MESL need is estimated to be €289.98
▪ Average weekly income amounts to €149.60
▪ Income covers 52% of estimated MESL need; shortfall of €140.37 per week.
The online event also heard from young people living in direct provision who spoke about their own personal experience, as well as the experience of their peers.
Princess (18) said:
The weekly allowance is not enough. I struggled to get necessities as a young girl. I couldn’t go out or do anything for myself. I am grateful to be getting it every week, but it is still not enough. It is not enough when you consider daily and weekly expenditure in Ireland; food, mobile data, transport and clothes. Sometimes I don’t even have enough money to buy lunch in college”.
Marwa (19) spoke about the costs that many young people in direct provision face:
“Most concerns arise when you are a student, especially a third year or sixth year student. These years come with so many expenses like school fees, uniforms, books, mock exam fees, exam papers and transport. How can €38 be enough for you to afford all of this? Families in direct provision are not entitled to child benefits and if you want to pursue higher level education you are not entitled for SUSI grants unless you have spent 3 years in Ireland”.
Beth, an advocate and parent with lived experience of the direct provision system gave an insight to the challenges facing pregnant women in direct provision:
“An expectant mother in direct provision receives €100 for clothing for her pregnancy. When you give birth, you are given €100 for clothing for six months. Then you are given €150 for baby clothing for six months. Imagine the clothing you need for a baby for six months. How is a mother supposed to survive?”.
Reflecting on the panel discussion, Tanya Ward said:
“The majority of children in the direct provision system are now in emergency style accommodation. The overview of what was envisioned in the White Paper will be very difficult to deliver in the short-term.
We have to rethink what the recommendations say on payments to support children in this new context. We should apply the same rate as the Qualified Child Increase support payment, no matter what type of accommodation they are in. Based on the very minimum essential costs there is an €18 gap for under 12 and €50 gap per week for children over 12. In the short term, Government should look at increasing the direct provision payment, so we don't have an issue where there is significant disparity arising between children receiving child payments and children the direct provision payment.”
“With the Government potentially planning a child poverty budget, it simply has to take into account children, young people and families who are at the highest risk of poverty in the State.
Last year, the Government made an effort to address the cost-of-living crisis for different groups of children and young people but the one group left behind was children in direct provision. We have to make sure in Budget 2024 that is not the case.”
For more information/interviews contact:
Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 800 1275, or Emma at email@example.com or 087 997 1410
Notes to Editors:
• Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for media interviews.
• Panellists are also available for media interviews.
• The recording of the event is available here.
• Read the Vincentian MESL Centre Research Paper here.
• Read Tight Spaces by the Irish Refugee Council here.
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 140 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL #DPpayment