Means-testing asylum seekers aims to ensure system is fair, says McEntee

Testing to apply to daily expenses allowances for those in direct provision and international protection settings

Asylum seekers receiving a daily expenses allowance will see the payments means-tested under new plans due to be introduced next month.

Government plans to means-test asylum seekers is about ensuring there is a fair system in place, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said.

Ms McEntee said Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is looking at means-test plans to be introduced next month, saying the move is based on a recommendation from the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The means-testing would apply to the daily expenses allowances distributed to people 18 years or over living in direct provision and international protection settings.

The advice comes amid concerns that some asylum seekers in employment are still claiming allowances.


Under the plans, international protection applicants will have their welfare payments cut if they are employed and earning more than €125 a week.

The Government has already reduced the social welfare payments for Ukrainian refugees who arrived after March from the job seekers’ rate of €232 to €38.80 per week.

Last week, it announced Ukrainians who fled to Ireland between 2022 and early 2024 and are living in State-provided accommodation will also have their allowances cut in the next three months. The changes will not affect Ukrainians living in pledged accommodation and the private rental sector who arrived in Ireland before March this year.

Ms McEntee told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme on Friday: “That’s really to bring everybody in line to make sure that those who are here, those who have access to work, those who are available to provide for themselves, that they can provide for themselves. That’s why these payments are changing.”

Asked whether the Government has assessed “what you’re dealing with” before implementing the policy, Ms McEntee said: “This has nothing to do with the numbers.

“What we’re saying is that if a person is working – and this applies to anyone in the system, this isn’t just for those of international protection or those coming from Ukraine – if a person is working and a person has the means to provide themselves, to fund themselves, to house themselves, then they shouldn’t be getting higher level of State intervention or funding, and that applies to anybody in this country,” Ms McEntee said.

“We need to make sure that our rules are fair, and that they apply across the board. This is not about how many we can take out of the system. This is about making sure that we have a fair system that applies to people equally across the board.”

International protection applicants living in State-provided accommodation are entitled to an allowance of €38.80 per week for an adult and €29.80 for a child. Those without accommodation and on a waiting list for a place to stay receive an increased adult rate of €113.80 per week.

There are currently 30,463 people seeking international protection and living in State provided accommodation, including 7,494 children. Some 1,923 men are awaiting an offer of accommodation, according to Government data.

Speaking at a local elections event in Monaghan on Friday, Mary Lou McDonald said that means testing is “part and parcel” of the welfare system.

“It seems to me consistent that it would apply in this case,” the Sinn Féin leader said.

Ms McDonald said people have been asking questions about immigration while she has been canvassing.

“I don’t think anybody should be surprised by that. When a change comes to your country or communities, people aren’t going to ask questions,” she said.

“I know people have been shocked by sights of tents on Mount Street, tents by the Grand Canal in Dublin, and rightly shocked by that.

“The thing that people are most frustrated by, most shocked by, is the fact that the Government has failed to have any plan. The fact that the Government has failed to have any effective communication or consultation with local communities, and that’s caused a problem.

“I think that could have been avoided. I think it should have been avoided. I think we could have avoided much of the stress and strain that has happened.

“We’ve told people that what we need is a system that is fair, that is efficient, and that’s enforced, a rules-based system.

“Let me tell you, I’ve been on doors now all around the place and... that’s in my opinion, where the vast, vast, vast majority of Irish people are at, a system that is fair, that’s efficient.

“We need a Government that can plan and that can manage things and doesn’t leave everybody in the worst of all worlds.” – PA