DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland will slash the allowance for newly arrived Ukrainian refugees using state accommodation to 38.80 euros ($41.90) per week from 220 euros and put a 90-day limit on the time they can remain housed by the state, the government said on Tuesday.
Just over 100,000 Ukrainians have fled to Ireland since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, which given Ireland’s population of 5.3 million makes it the largest host on a per capita basis in Western Europe. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday that 80,000 remain in the country.
The changes to come in early next year will not apply to the 70,000 Ukrainians already in some form of state accommodation.
The government said it was moving the rate in line with what is offered in other parts of Western Europe, and to asylum seekers from other countries who are in Irish state-provided accommodation.
While the reduced payment will revert to 220 euros once the recipient leaves a state centre, the Irish Refugee Council said the vast majority would find it difficult, if not impossible, to find accommodation in the middle of a housing crisis.
The government agency responsible for housing asylum seekers began handing out tents to some new arrivals last week after running out of accommodation.
Homelessness levels in Ireland reached another record high last month with almost 13,200 people in emergency accommodation, while the stock of properties available for private rental has been at or around record low levels for years.
“I am very proud that we as a country have welcomed 100,000 Ukrainians to Ireland and I want to say very clearly that Ukrainians who are fleeing the war in Ukraine will remain welcome in Ireland,” Varadkar told parliament.
“But the situation is that accommodation is scarce and the numbers coming in remain very large, and we’re making this change with that in mind, recognising that other European countries have acted similarly.”
($1 = 0.9262 euros)
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Frances Kerry)