A relaxation of rules on asylum seekers' right to work and more State-owned direct provision centres are among a number of proposals being recommended to cope with an upsurge in refugee claims.

The recommendations are contained in a spending review of the 39 centres published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which found that costs are expected to rise by over €45 million or 58% next year.

The review found the main reason for the cost increase is an expected 40% rise in asylum cases this year, following on from a 20% increase last year.

While the numbers of claims are increasing, the numbers exiting the centres are not keeping pace; 12% of residents have had a decision but remain in direct provision mainly because of a lack of housing.

It states that efforts to increase capacity were hampered by the requirements of the procurement process and some cases of local opposition.

This meant an increase in the use of emergency accommodation, which proved costly during a housing crisis and in tourism market, averaging €100 per person per night.

Recommended upgrades to direct provision centres are also adding 25% to costs.

The report also warns that the situation could be exacerbated by Brexit. 


Watch: Asylum and Direct Provision explained


It recommends an early warning system to anticipate "shocks" to the accommodation expenditure.

The review adds if the number of State-owned centres was increased, it would save money as they are cheaper to run compared to commercially owned facilities.

At present only seven of the 39 centres are privately owned.

If asylum seekers could work before the current limit of nine months this would allow them to contribute to the cost of their accommodation and make it easier for them to find permanent housing.

And if the centres could be located in "cheaper locations" this would also reduce costs. 

The review also says more research should be carried out into the possibility of an allowance system for asylum seekers rather than direct provision. 

It states that current capacity problems are occurring despite processing times being reduced with 62% of residents now leaving centres within two years compared to just 32% in 2015.