Heather Humphreys could reduce social assistance for 8,000 Ukrainian pensioners to just €38.80 per week

But his department doesn’t want to know who will see their benefits reduced in three months.

Thousands of elderly Ukrainian refugees rely on weekly state aid which Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys plans to cut to €38.80 in less than three months.

Official data shows that there are 8,232 Ukrainian refugees receiving a state pension or disability payment.

There are 7,919 Ukrainians over the age of 65 seeking refuge here while their country is under attack from Russia.

Last week, as local and European elections approached on June 7, Ms Humphreys announced plans to cut welfare to 27,000 Ukrainian refugees, who are in state-provided accommodation, over the next three months.

He has made no public comment on how the plan will work or how refugees will be selected to have their money cut.

The Department of Social Protection declined to say how many of the more than 8,000 Ukrainians receiving pensions or disability payments will have their benefits reduced.

The refugees were welcomed to Ireland by Humphreys and his government colleagues two years ago, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukrainians fleeing the war were told they would be entitled to accommodation, full state welfare and medical cards when they arrived here.

The measure caused the arrival of more than 100,000 Ukrainians to Ireland. Since March, refugees were told they would only be entitled to €38.80 a week and three months of state accommodation.

The decision to cut payments came as the Government struggled to cope with the influx of people into Ireland seeking international protection as the election approached.

“The Minister for Social Protection will now work alongside the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on the operational arrangements to give effect to this change, with an estimated time of 12 weeks to allow details to be finalised. and notice will be provided to affected people,” his spokeswoman said.

Today’s news in 90 seconds – May 24, 2024

This week, a cabinet committee on immigration heard how almost 100 people have been prosecuted this year for arriving in Ireland without a passport.

The committee also heard that the number of people arriving without travel documentation decreased by 17 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have been deported after failing to obtain international protection has increased by 50%.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee told Taoiseach Simon Harris and ministers that plans to charter deportation flights would begin before the end of the year.

The Government is planning a major investment in immigration services in a bid to tackle the record level of asylum seekers arriving here.

This will include more people working in the International Protection Office (IPO), the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, border management at Dublin Airport and the Department of Justice.

The committee was told that if immigration services staff were not urgently increased, there could be 40,000 active asylum cases in the country by the end of the year.

Immigration services are currently processing 28,300 international protection cases.

Last year, 13,500 people applied for asylum here, four times more than the Government expected. This year, around 1,800 people a month are seeking international protection.

The Government wants to improve the already fast-paced asylum review system operated by the IPO to allow 1,800 case determinations to be made each month by the end of this year.

This figure will increase to 2,200 decisions made on applications by the middle of next year. This is expected to bring the number of active cases down to 10,500.

The accelerated processing system introduced in 2022 has resulted in a halving of the number of applications from countries considered safe.

The number of cases heard by the court is also expected to rise to 1,250 next year.

The number of IPO employees is expected to increase from 490 to 620 next year, while the tribunal will have 17 full-time and 200 part-time members, along with 175 members.

The Government is preparing a bill to expand the criteria for making decisions on asylum appeals.

Both agencies will get more office space as part of strengthening immigration services. There are also plans to hold appeals online to allow more capacity in the system.

The number of Justice Department officials handling deportations is expected to increase from 72 to 119 next year.