The Irish government is set to make changes to how it supports people fleeing war, particularly Ukrainians who have sought refuge in Ireland. Over the past two years, Ireland has been commended for its response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with nearly 100,000 Ukrainians finding shelter in the country. However, the government is now working on a proposal that will see newly arrived Ukrainians offered three months of state-provided accommodation before they must find their own housing in the rental sector or through the offer-a-home scheme. Currently, most Ukrainians are being accommodated in hotels, B&Bs, and hostels, costing the taxpayer around €1.5bn per year. The EU has extended temporary protection for Ukrainians until 2025, prompting governments, including Ireland, to seek long-term housing solutions.
This change in policy is said to be aimed at encouraging Ukrainians to integrate into society more quickly, but it may also be a tactic to discourage further arrivals as the government struggles to find adequate accommodation. The government source states that the time restriction on hotel stays is to bring Ireland’s offering in line with other EU countries, where a maximum stay of 90 to 180 days is typically offered before payment is required. The government’s approach appears to be hardening, with concerns raised about the sustainability of supporting increasing numbers of asylum seekers and Ukrainians in the future. The worry is that this could further inflate homelessness figures, which are already at an all-time high. With a general election scheduled for next year, the government is keen to avoid any increase in homelessness.
It is important to note that while Ireland has been praised for its response to the Ukrainian crisis, it remains an outlier in terms of the accommodation and social welfare support it provides. The upcoming changes in policy reflect a need for more sustainable and long-term solutions. The government’s focus on integration and finding alternative housing options for Ukrainians is a step towards ensuring that the support provided is effective and efficient. However, there are concerns that these changes may also be driven by the government’s struggle to find suitable accommodation and a desire to discourage further arrivals. As the government grapples with the issue of homelessness, it must strike a balance between supporting those in need and managing the strain on public resources. Ultimately, the government’s approach to housing Ukrainians will have significant implications for both the individuals seeking refuge and the broader housing crisis in Ireland.