Forms and levels of material reception conditions

Republic of Ireland

Country Report: Forms and levels of material reception conditions Last updated: 10/07/24


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The Reception Conditions Regulations 2018 define “material reception conditions” as: (a) housing, food and associated in-kind benefits; (b) the daily expenses allowance; and (c) financial allowance for clothing.[1]


Daily expenses allowance

The Direct Provision allowance, referred to as the daily expenses allowance under the Reception Conditions Regulations, is a payment made to protection applicants for personal and incidental expenses. The rate of the payment remained static until 2019 and was consistently the subject of criticism, including by the McMahon Working Group. The criticism stated that the weekly allowance was wholly inadequate to meet essential needs such as clothing including for school going children and it did not enable participation in social and community activities. The weekly allowance was also often used to supplement the food provided at Direct Provision centres. The Working Group recommended that the weekly allowance be increased for adults from € 19.10 to € 38.74 and increased from € 9.60 to € 29.80 for children.[2] In 2023, protection applicants received a weekly allowance of € 38.80 per adult and € 29.80 per child. A group of migrant advocacy organisations called for the daily expenses allowance to be increased during the pandemic. This request was refused.


Other financial support

Section 15 of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act 2009 states that an individual who does not have a “right to reside” in the State shall not be regarded as being habitually resident in the State. As protection applicants do not have a right to reside in Ireland, they are excluded from social welfare. Under the IPA this prohibition remains unless a person has a pre-existing right to work on their previous status in Ireland.

The Working Group report noted that “apart from the weekly allowance, residents are not eligible to apply for other social protection supports with the exception of Exceptional Needs Payments (ENPs) and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.”[3]

The Exceptional Needs Payment is a discretionary payment made by a Welfare Officer on receipt of an application for a one-off payment, rather than an ongoing liability. It is relied upon by protection applicants because it is an exception to the general rule regarding habitual residence. For example, it is often the only way to pay for transport costs. However, it is a highly discretionary payment with a limited appeals mechanism. In the experience of the Irish Refugee Council, there is anecdotal evidence that there can be wide differences in how the Exceptional Needs Payment is administered, depending on which centre the asylum seeker is living in.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) was not made available to individuals who were employed and living in Direct Provision on the basis that the payment was tied to jobseekers’ allowance and constituted a form of social welfare payment for the purposes of s.15 of the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act 2009. More than 40 organisations jointly wrote to the Minister for Social Protection requesting a € 20.00 increase of the Daily Expense Allowance provided to international protection applicants living in Direct Provision. This request was refused on budgetary grounds.[4] However, in August 2020, following sustained advocacy from various migrant rights groups, the PUP was extended to people living in Direct Provision as well as applicants for international protection who live outside the Direct Provision system.[5] The payment was payable whereby an individual met the criteria of the scheme and the rate payable depended on the wages of the affected individual.[6]

From 22 January 2022, the Pandemic Unemployment Payment closed to new applicants.




[1] Regulation 2 Reception Conditions Regulations 2018.

[2] Working Group to report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers, Final Report June 2015, para 5.30, 208.

[3] Working Group to report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers, Final Report June 2015, para 5.5, 203.

[4] The Irish Times, ‘No temporary increase in weekly asylum payment during pandemic’, 29 May 2020, available at:

[5] The Journal, ‘Direct provision residents will now be eligible for pandemic unemployment payment’, 6 August 2020, available at:

[6] Department of Social Protection, Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, 16 June 2020, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation