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Pensioners housing war refugees ‘will have welfare payments safeguarded’

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Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Pensioners who give up rooms in their houses to refugees fleeing Ukraine will not see their welfare payments affected by having people staying in their homes.

Welfare payments, such as the living alone allowance and the fuel allowance, would normally be reduced if a person began providing accommodation for someone else in their home.

However, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys will announce plans today to sign new regulations which will mean pensioners will not have to fear being penalised if they decide to offer up a room in their homes to house a refugee fleeing war-torn Ukraine.

Ms Humphreys has been contacted by older people who are concerned their weekly payments will be reduced if they open their home to refugees.

The living allowance is worth €22 per week while the fuel allowance is €33 a week over 28 weeks.

The move is one of a range of Government measures aimed at addressing the humanitarian crisis sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month.

Around 10,000 Ukrainians have already arrived in Ireland and this is expected to double by the end of the month.

Hotel rooms are still the main accommodation being used by the Government to house those arriving in Ireland. However, inspections will begin this week of around 4,000 vacant homes that have been offered up by the public.

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers will carry out the inspections to ensure the properties can be used as homes for people fleeing Ukraine.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman is leading the Government’s response to the refugee crisis.

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The Government is also planning to hold a meeting with the construction sector to discuss building more accommodation for the refugees.

A new reception hub is also to be opened in Rosslare to meet the demand of refugees arriving in the Wexford port.

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There has been a significant increase in people arriving in Rosslare from Ukraine in recent days and the new hub will provide information on services and benefits for those arriving from the war-torn Eastern European country.

The hub will provide services similar to those offered already at Dublin and Cork airports.

Yesterday, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris announced 1,000 student accommodation beds have been offered up by universities hoping to assist with the refugee crisis.

The minister also said Ukrainian students will be able to continue their studies in third-level institutions when they arrive in Ireland.

“We’re also making arrangements that any Ukrainian student will be treated just like an Irish student in terms of being able to access student support and student grants,” he said.

He said the other “big issue” his department is working on is rolling out English language classes for refugees.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government will do all it can to ensure financial constraints do not “guide how our country responds back to this huge humanitarian need”.

“We’re going to mobilise all the resources that are available to us to do it,” he said. “But it does mean there’s a need for Government then to be open and honest about the fact that we will not be able to meet every other need that we want to respond to.

“[This is] because the need to respond to humanitarian needs that we are going to face will be so important.”


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