A one-off premium of between 2,000 and 3,500 euros per reception of asylum seekers. The local authorities receive this from State Secretary Nicole de Moor if they create extra reception places on their territory. This is apparent from a letter that she and Fedasil sent to the mayors on Friday. “It is the first time that we give an extra premium for this,” said the Fedasil spokeswoman. “Every place counts right now.”
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Our country is facing the largest reception crisis since the refugee crisis of 2015-2016. In the first half of this year alone, 16,000 asylum applications have been made, on top of the 50,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived, and in the meantime the shelters are overflowing. In the letter, State Secretary De Moor lists the measures she has already taken to manage the reception crisis, including additional asylum centers and additional staff. But she also counts on the municipalities, although she speaks threatening language at the same time. She points out that she could introduce a mandatory distribution over the municipalities, “as provided for by law and as happens, for example, in the Netherlands”. But she is counting on this not to be necessary: ”We will continue to follow the voluntary path and hope to count on your commitment.”
1,000 for Ukrainians
That is why the so-called Impulse Fund now provides an extra, on top of the daily allowance that the municipalities receive per reception place anyway. The amounts are much higher than the premiums that the Flemish government gave to the mayors to receive Ukrainian refugees. At that time, it was about 1,000 euros per childcare. Now there is a premium system that is classified according to type of reception (room in shared home or individual home) and type of asylum seeker (unaccompanied minors or others).
The municipality will receive 2,000 euros for a room for a single person in a shared house. For a house with three rooms, that comes to 6,000 euros. An individual home for a family is good for 2,500 euros. For unaccompanied minors – who must be accompanied – this is 3,000 euros (in a shared home) or 3,500 euros (individual supervision).
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But those amounts do not seem to convince the municipalities. “All our reception places are full,” says Peter Reekmans, who also received the letter as mayor of Glabbeek. “We can’t just conjure up houses. We are at our limit, and those premiums are not going to change that.”
The Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG) is also aware of this. “It’s not about the money for us,” says spokeswoman Nathalie Debast. “The rack is just gone, after the years of yo-yo policy. First the municipalities had to create extra places, then reduce them again and now more. Moreover, there are hardly any places left. Municipalities should start renting on the private market, but then they are competing with their own residents, who are already having a hard time finding a rental house.”