The Department of Integration has confirmed that a weekly €50 voucher for homeless asylum seekers was only rolled out weeks after it had claimed it was already in place.

On 5 May the Department said that new international protection applicants who were not offered State-provided accommodation were issued "with weekly €50 vouchers".

However a number of asylum seekers who were without State provided accommodation and who had been sleeping rough told RTÉ News that they had not received any such vouchers, nor had they heard anything about them.

When RTÉ queried this with the Department a spokesperson replied on 16 May that the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) had been "issuing the weekly voucher to international protection applicants for a number of weeks now."

However the Department has since confirmed to RTÉ that "this additional support to international protection applicants commenced on 23 May 2023."

A spokesperson said that these vouchers are actually issued as €100 vouchers on a fortnightly basis and that they are issued electronically.

CEO of the Irish Refugee Council Nick Henderson said it was still "unclear whether everyone is accessing this voucher."

"A €50 voucher will allow people to purchase some food for a day or two, and perhaps some clothing. However, in our opinion and our experience of working with people who are homeless, it will not prevent destitution and cannot ever replace the reality that someone must sleep rough," Mr Henderson added.

This support comes in addition to a once off €50 voucher card given to asylum seekers who are not offered State provided accommodation when they first present, and a weekly allowance of €38.80 normally given to people who live in direct provision accommodation.

Initially, when the State ceased offering accommodation to adults presenting without children on 24 January amid a nationwide shortage, the one off voucher was worth €20.

The weekly €38.80 allowance was also not initially available to those left without accommodation, but this changed after around two months and it was back-dated for those who presented before that.

This evening figures released by the Department show that 119 international protection applicants have not been offered State provided accommodation, including 21 people who presented today and 40 who presented yesterday after the Bank Holiday weekend.

On Friday, the numbers left without accommodation were reduced to their lowest level since February at 74, after places were offered to 150 people in a 48 hour period.

Another 16 asylum seekers who had no State-provided accommodation have been offered a space since the weekend.