Officials at the Dept of Justice have warned the impact of Covid-19 is contributing to the projected costs of accommodating and protecting asylum seekers in direct provision and hotels spiralling to €200m this year.
The projected spend of €200m is an overrun of €120m on the 2020 budget provision of €80.6m under the heading of ‘International Protection Accommodation’.
The sobering projected cost increases across a number of headings are included in new briefing documents prepared by officials at the Dept of Justice for the new Ministers in the department.
The 2020 budget provision for ‘International Protection Accommodation’ was €80.6m, in spite of spending in the area last year totalling €130m.
The documents, published today but drawn up in June, state that the 2020 allocation of €80.6m “will be exceeded by the end of June”.
The documents state the impact on costs has been exacerbated by the need to secure additional hotel spaces to help reduce contacts within centres and provide self-isolation facilities in a number of locations and the purchase of necessary PPE and sanitiser to help reduce the risk of an outbreak in centres.
The briefing notes state that the Covid impact is the main factor for increasing costs.
The officials also state that extra monies will be required for the Gardai and the Courts and these supplementary estimates will be required in October/November timeframe rather than closer to year-end.
The officials state that Covid-19 is the main driver in additional pressures on the Garda budget, totalling an additional €44m.
It puts additional payroll costs at the Gardai due to revised rosters at €18m; PPE costs of €14m; the earlier attestation of two classes at a cost of €4.5m; additional fleet purchases of €3m; hire of additional vehicles of €1.5m and ICT and other costs at €3m.
The Courts Service has been "severely impacted" by the Covid emergency.
The documents state that there could be a shortfall of €17m, equal to 40% in fee income “which would be unsustainable for the Courts Vote”.
The officials state that around €9m is accounted for in the fall-off in fee income from special exemption orders for the licensing trade and hospitality industry.
The documents state that the Courts Service is projected that three months of civil business will be lost due to Covid-19 with a forecast shortfall in income of €8m.
The officials state that the additional Covid 19 costs to the Irish Prison Service (IPS) will be in the region of €4m to €5m.
The additional costs relate to PPE equipment, additional video link facilities for remote Court attendance and additional payroll costs to cover for officers in isolation.
At the end of May 2020 across the Dept of Justice budget, there was a gross overspend of €51m in current expenditure and an underspend of €35m in capital expenditure and a surplus in receipts year to date of €9m leaving a net over-run of €7m.