The Reception Regulations cover the provision of “material conditions”, defined as including “housing, food and clothing, provided in kind, or as financial allowances or in vouchers, and a daily expenses allowance.”
In practice, asylum seekers in open centres are provided with accommodation and a daily food and transport allowance whereas asylum seekers in detention are provided with accommodation, food and clothing in kind.
The Reception Regulations generally specify that the level of material reception conditions should ensure a standard of living adequate for the health of the asylum seekers, and capable of ensuring their subsistence. However, legislation neither requires a certain level of material reception conditions, nor does it set a minimum amount of financial allowance provided to detained asylum seekers. Asylum seekers living in open centres are given a small food and transport allowance, free access to state health services and in cases of children under sixteen, free access to state education services. They are not entitled to social welfare benefits. Asylum seekers in detention enjoy free state health services, clearly within the practical limitations created by their presence within a detention centre.
Asylum seekers living in open centres experience difficulties in securing an adequate standard of living. The daily allowance provided is barely sufficient to provide for the most basic of needs, and the lack of access to social welfare support exacerbates these difficulties. Social security policy and legislation precludes asylum seekers from social welfare benefits, except those benefits which are defined as “contributory”. With contributory benefits, entitlement is based on payment of a set number of contributions and on meeting the qualifying conditions, which effectively implies that only a tiny number of asylum seekers would qualify for such benefits, if any.
AWAS provides different amounts of daily allowance, associated with the asylum seeker’s status:
- 4.66 € for asylum seekers;
- 2.91 € persons returned under the Dublin III Regulation; and
- 2.33 € children (including unaccompanied minors) until they turn 17.
People living outside of reception centres are usually not entitled to any form of allowance. However, in 2019 due to the lack of space in overcrowded reception centres and the impossibility to accommodate new arrivals, AWAS decided to also provide this allowance to people left outside of the reception system. According to AWAS, any applicant duly registered with RefCom and holding the asylum-seeker certificate can apply to receive the allowance. NGOs indicated that all people referred to AWAS were provided with the allowance. However, since no information is provided to applicants about this possibility and since NGOs have limited resources, many applicants were left outside of the reception system and did not benefit from allowances for lack of information or documentation. Moreover, due to major delays in the registration process with RefCom, applicants often waited weeks or even months to have their certificate and, therefore, receive the per diem.
Asylum seekers in detention receive less favourable treatment than nationals with regard to material support, due to the fact that they are detained. Persons living in open centres are treated less favourably than nationals in relation to access to social welfare support, as they are denied access.
 Article 2 Reception Regulations.