Irish Refugee Protection Programme


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Guidelines to provide information for DOs and DPs on social welfare entitlements for persons arriving under this programme. 

Introduction
On 10 September 2015 the Irish Government approved the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme and agreed that Ireland would accept up to 4,000 persons seeking protection under the EU Relocation and Resettlement programmes.

The purpose of this guideline is to bring together in a single document the key information for DOs and DPs in relation to the rules for social welfare entitlements for this group, as well as for asylum seekers and refugees generally. This guideline should be read in conjunction with the guidelines for each scheme as well as HRC and means testing guidelines, as necessary.

Details of new programme
There are two Programmes involved, called the Resettlement and Relocation Programmes.

Under the Resettlement Programme, people arriving in Ireland will already have been selected under the UNHCR resettlement programme and granted refugee status.  

Under the Relocation Programme, people will arrive in Ireland from other EU member states before their status is determined, i.e. it will be up to the Irish authorities (i.e. D/Justice authorities) to process their claims for international protection (asylum).

Both groups will be accommodated initially in a network of Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres (EROCs). In these centres, residents will receive full board, meals and other services. It is also intended that persons awaiting a decision on their status will receive a weekly allowance for personal incidental expenditure on the same basis as the Direct Provision allowance.

Key issues in determining the social welfare entitlements of people either seeking protection or granted protection.
There are a number of different forms of protection which the State can grant to asylum seekers. These include asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary leave to remain. For the purpose of this guideline, the term "protection" is used to cover all of these.

In determining entitlement to social welfare payments for people seeking or granted protection, DOs/DPs/AOs need to be particularly aware of the legislation in relation to the Habitual Residence Condition, where there is a clear distinction between those who have been granted protection and those who have not yet been granted protection.

Generally, those who have not yet been granted protection and who reside within accommodation provided by the Department of Justice (DP centres and EROCs) will receive the Direct Provision Allowance and may qualify for ENPs under the SWA scheme. As they cannot meet the Habitual Residence Condition, they will not qualify for other social welfare payments. Separate guidelines regarding DP allowance and ENPs for this group issued on 30th October (circular 054/2015).

In the case of people who have been granted protection (whether before arrival in Ireland or afterwards), they may apply for social welfare payments appropriate to their circumstances. In particular, they potentially can qualify for means-tested payments. In the interests of consistency across schemes, and also to achieve a degree of equity between people living in Direct Provision Centres, people living in EROC centres, and those living in the community, it is desirable that decisions makers would take a reasonably consistent approach to the assessment of the value of the accommodation and services provided to those in DP and EROC centres, where the legislation allows.

More details on HRC and means testing for these situations are set out below.


Habitual Residence Condition (HRC)

HRC applies* to all social assistance schemes and to Child Benefit. There is one exception: while HRC applies to weekly payments under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme (SWA), it does not apply to urgent or exceptional needs payments (ENPs). So a person who does not satisfy HRC cannot qualify for any social assistance payment (apart from ENPs under SWA) or for Child Benefit.

All decision makers (DOs, DPs, AOs) taking HRC decisions should familiarise themselves with the HRC legislation and guidelines. The HRC guidelines contain more detail regarding the treatment of different categories of asylum seekers, refugees and others.

The legislation regarding HRC makes a clear distinction between people who have been granted protection and those whose applications for protection have been refused or have not yet been determined. Section 246 (7) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended) makes it clear that a person who is seeking protection, and whose claim has not yet been decided or whose claim has been refused,  cannot be regarded as habitually resident for the purpose of the Act. Furthermore, if such a person is granted protection, the Act also provides that they cannot be regarded as habitually resident for any time period before protection was granted. So, until protection is granted, asylum seekers etc. cannot receive any non-contributory payment (apart from ENPs) or Child Benefit.

Once protection is granted, the person has a right to live and work in Ireland on the same basis as an Irish citizen. They are entitled to apply for any social welfare payment appropriate to their circumstances, subject to the rules of the particular scheme. Under the legislation, they need to satisfy HRC. The legislation requires the decision maker to take into account all of the circumstances of the case and, in practice, in the vast majority of cases it will be clear that once permission to remain has been granted, the customer’s centre of interest is now Ireland, and in general DOs and DPs should be able to decide the person satisfies HRC without seeking the detailed information regarding residence, employment etc. that is required in other HRC cases.

*There are some exceptions, e.g. people who qualify as EU workers, but these would not be relevant to the current guideline.

Means testing
Once a person has been granted protection (whether this is before arrival or after arrival in Ireland), they can qualify for means tested payments on the same basis as Irish citizens.

The following social welfare schemes** allow for the assessment of non-cash benefits in the means tests:

  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Disability Allowance
  • State Pension (Non-Contributory)
  • Widow’s and Widower’s Non-Contributory Pension
  • One Parent Family Payment

People in DP centres/EROC centres receive accommodation, food and other services. In order to get consistent treatment, it is recommended that DOs/DPs assess the value of these non-cash benefits for all of the above schemes at the following rates from 03/08/2017.

Single Person €169.40
Couple €275.90
Couple, 1 child €284.10
Couple, 2 children €292.30
Couple, 3 children €300.50
Single 1 child €177.60
Single 2 children €185.80
Single 3 children €194.00

 
For larger numbers of children, these values should be increased by €8.20 for each child after the third.

**PRETA and Farm Assist also allow for the assessment of non-cash benefits received, but are not considered further here as PRETA is closed to new applicants and Farm Assist would not be relevant to this group. 

In the case of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Basic SWA, where the applicant is under 26 and the age-related payment rates apply, it is recommended that DOs/DPs adjust the value of the non-cash benefits to ensure that a minimum payment of €24.00 and €21.60 respectively per week is made in cases where there are no other means.

In the case of Carer’s Allowance and Blind Pension, there is no legal basis for the assessment of non-cash benefits and therefore no value for non-cash benefits should be included in the means test.

In the case of Guardian’s Payment, no value for non-cash benefits should be included in the means test.

JA/Basic SWA and availability for work and genuinely seeking work.
Once a person has protection (i.e. refugee status or other leave to remain) they are entitled to work in Ireland and every effort should be made to ensure that they are encouraged to engage with the labour market as soon as possible.

People arriving in Ireland under the two EU programmes will undertake an eight-week language training and orientation programme. At the end of this programme, and once their asylum status has been decided, they should be subject to the same rules in determining availability/GSW as an Irish citizen.

Child Benefit
People who are granted protection will normally qualify for Child Benefit from the date on which protection is granted (or arrival in Ireland, if later). This is of course subject to the normal rules of residence etc. Child Benefit will be paid at the normal rate, regardless of whether the customer is accommodated in a DP centre, EROC centre or living in the community.

*Recommended values for non-cash benefits applying in both 2016 (Appendix B) and 2017 (Appendix A) are given in the Appendices to this guideline. In a small number of cases the effect of rounding/rate banding leads to a lower rate of payment in 2017 than in 2016. Where a customer is already in payment at the higher rate, the means should be adjusted in order to ensure that the customer’s payment is not reduced.  

Appendix A

Rates to be applied from 03-08-2017

 

Value of Non Cash
Benefits to be assessed

 

 

Value of the weekly payment with the non-cash benefits assessed according to relevant scheme rules

 

 

Basic SWA

Jobseeker’s Allowance

One Parent Family Payment

Disability Allowance

State Pension Non-Con.

Blind Pension

Widow’s Pension Non-Con.

Guardian’s Payment Non-Con.

Carer’s Allowance

Personal Rate

€169.40

€21.60

€24.00

 

€25.50

€87.00

€193.00

€30.50

€176.00

€209.00

Couple

€275.90

€43.20

€45.10

 

€46.10

€194.30

€321.10

 

 

 

Couple, 1 child

€284.10

€64.80

€66.90

 

€68.90

€220.00

€350.90

 

 

 

Couple, 2 children

€292.30

€86.40

€88.70

 

€90.70

€241.50

€380.70

 

 

 

Couple, 3 children

€300.50

€108.00

€109.50

 

€110.50

€263.00

€410.70

 

 

 

Personal rate + 1 child

€177.60

€43.20 

 

€52.80

 

 

 

 

 

€238.80

Personal rate + 2 children

€185.80

€64.80 

 

€72.60

 

 

 

 

 

€268.60

Personal rate + 3 children

€194.00

€86.40 

 

€94.90

 

 

 

 

 

€298.40

 

APPENDIX B

Rates for the period 13-03-2017 - 02-08-2017

 

Value of Non Cash
Benefits to be assessed

 

 

Value of the weekly payment with the non-cash benefits assessed according to relevant scheme rules

 

 

Basic SWA

Jobseeker’s Allowance

One Parent Family Payment

Disability Allowance

State Pension Non-Con.

Blind Pension

Widow’s Pension Non-Con.

Guardian’s Payment Non-Con.

Carer’s Allowance

Personal Rate

€171.90

€19.10

€21.00

 

€23.00

€84.50

€188.00

€30.50

€176.00

€209.00

Couple

€280.90

€38.20

€40.10

 

€41.10

€190.20

€312.80

 

 

 

Couple, 1 child

€295.10

€53.80

€55.90

 

€55.90

€207.50

€342.60

 

 

 

Couple, 2 children

€309.30

€69.40

€71.70

 

€73.20

€229.00

€372.40

 

 

 

Couple, 3 children

€323.50

€85.00

€86.50

 

€88.00

€246.30

€402.20

 

 

 

Personal rate + 1 child

€186.10

 

 

€42.80

 

 

 

 

 

€238.80

Personal rate + 2 children

€200.30

 

 

€57.60

 

 

 

 

 

€268.60

Personal rate + 3 children

€214.50

 

 

€74.90

 

 

 

 

 

€298.40

 

APPENDIX B

Rates for the period 07-01-2016 - 12-03-2017 inclusive

 

Value of Non Cash
Benefits to be assessed

 

 

Value of the weekly payment with the non-cash benefits assessed according to relevant scheme rules

 

 

Basic SWA

Jobseeker’s Allowance

One Parent Family Payment

Disability Allowance

State Pension Non-Con.

Blind Pension

Widow’s Pension Non-Con.

Guardian’s Payment Non-Con.

Carer’s Allowance

Personal Rate

€166.90

€19.10

€21.00

 

€23.00

€84.50

€188.00

€28

€161.00

€204.00

Couple

€272.60

€38.20

€39.80

 

€40.30

€190.20

€312.80

 

 

 

Couple, 1 child

€286.80

€53.80

€55.60

 

€57.60

€207.50

€342.60

 

 

 

Couple, 2 children

€301.00

€69.40

€71.40

 

€72.40

€224.90

€372.40

 

 

 

Couple, 3 children

€315.20

€85.00

€87.20

 

€87.20

€242.20

€402.20

 

 

 

Personal rate + 1 child

€181.10

 

 

€42.80

 

 

 

 

 

€233.80

Personal rate + 2 children

€195.30

 

 

€57.60

 

 

 

 

 

€263.60

Personal rate + 3 children

€209.50

 

 

€74.90

 

 

 

 

 

€293.40

 

APPENDIX C

VALUE OF NON-CASH BENEFITS PRIOR TO 03 AUGUST 2017

For periods between 13 March 2017 and 02 August 2017, it is recommended that DOs/DPs assess the value of non-cash benefits for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, State Pension (Non-Contributory), Widow’s and Widower’s Non-Contributory Pension and One Parent Family Payment at the following rates:

Single Person €171.90
Couple €280.90
Couple, 1 child €295.10
Couple, 2 children €309.30
Couple, 3 children €323.50
Single 1 child €186.10
Single 2 children €200.30
Single 3 children €214.50
 
For larger numbers of children, for periods from 13 March 2017, these values should be increased by €14.20 for each child after the third.

In the case of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Basic SWA, where the applicant is under 26 and age-related payment rates apply, it is recommended that DOs/DPs adjust the value of the non-cash benefits to ensure a minimum payment of €19.10 per week in cases where there are no other means.

 

VALUE OF NON-CASH BENEFITS PRIOR TO 13 MARCH 2017

For periods between 07 January 2016 and 12 March 2017, it is recommended that DOs/DPs assess the value of non-cash benefits for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, State Pension (Non-Contributory), Widow’s and Widower’s Non-Contributory Pension and One Parent Family Payment at the following rates:

Single Person €166.90
Couple €272.60
Couple, 1 child €286.80
Couple, 2 children €301.00
Couple, 3 children €315.20
Single 1 child €181.10
Single 2 children €195.30
Single 3 children €209.50
 
For larger numbers of children, for periods from 7 January 2016, these values should be increased by €14.20 for each child after the third.

In the case of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Basic SWA, where the applicant is under 26 and age-related payment rates apply, it is recommended that DOs/DPs adjust the value of the non-cash benefits to ensure a minimum payment of €19.10 per week in cases where there are no other means.

 

VALUE OF NON-CASH BENEFITS PRIOR TO 07 JANUARY 2016

For periods prior to 07 January 2016, it is recommended that DOs/DPs assess the value of non-cash benefits for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, State Pension (Non-Contributory), Widow’s and Widower’s Non-Contributory Pension and One Parent Family Payment at the following rates:

Single Person €166.90
Couple €272.60
Couple, 1 child €292.80
Couple, 2 children €313.00
Couple, 3 children €333.20
Single 1 child €187.10
Single 2 children €207.30
Single 3 children €227.50
 
For larger numbers of children, for periods prior to 7 January 2016, these values should be increased by €20.20 for each child after the third.

In the case of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Basic SWA, where the applicant is under 26 and age-related payment rates apply, it is recommended that DOs/DPs adjust the value of the non-cash benefits to ensure a minimum payment of €19.10 per week in cases where there are no other means.

Last modified:18/08/2017