Beneficiaries of international protection face challenges leaving government accommodation, research finds

10 Jun 2024

Research published today by EMN Ireland/ESRI found that a large number of beneficiaries of international protection are struggling to move out of government-provided accommodation into autonomous housing.

As of January 2024, almost 6,000 people with international protection status who could in principle move on to autonomous housing were living in government-provided International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) accommodation. This was approximately 22% of the total residents, a significant increase from 2020, when around 14% of those in IPAS accommodation had this status.

Barriers to accessing housing

A lack of supply, of social housing and affordable private rental housing, was the primary barrier identified. Other mainstream barriers included the inadequacy of mainstream support services such as Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), overburdened services and a lack of knowledge or clarity in local authorities about the rights and entitlements of refugees.

Several barriers identified for this group are related to the system for accommodating and integrating beneficiaries of international protection. These include: the dispersal system, which does not consider long-term housing, employment or services in the area; the practice of transferring refugees to different accommodation after 1-2 years with status; and a lack of coordination and planning for reunified families. Other barriers identified for this group included language barriers and a lack of access to information and networks, discrimination by landlords, and psychological issues.

Providing support: challenges and good practices

The research also looked at challenges and good practices in providing support for this group. Challenges for service providers for this group included:

  • A lack of resources and high staff turnover for NGOs and local authorities;
  • Inconsistency between the approaches of different local authorities and/or lack of clarity among local authorities about the entitlements of this group.

Good practices reported included:

  • The introduction of permanent, DCEDIY-funded integration teams in every local authority.
  • Multistakeholder/multiagency approaches and coordination mechanisms such as the interdepartmental working group that was set up for beneficiaries of temporary protection.
  • Community integration forums which were set up to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been repurposed to support the integration of beneficiaries of temporary protection from Ukraine and international protection applicants.

Nevertheless, the research found that some refugees were able to move on, with approximately 2,000 people progressing from IPAS accommodation in 2023. However, the research also demonstrated that there was no mechanism to track the outcomes of this group once they left IPAS accommodation.

In February, the European Migration Network published an EMN Inform on access to autonomous housing in the context of international protection which provides a comparative overview of policy and practice among EMN Member and Observer Countries.

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