Disability allowance hike of €20 needed urgently, says Rehab
Call for support to help people with disabilities into workforce and out of poverty risk
Two-thirds of those surveyed reported employers overlooked them for jobs and were unwilling to provide the workplace supports they needed.
Many people with disabilities are skipping meals, going without medicine, cutting back on heating and cannot afford to go out because their disability payments are too small, new research from the Rehab Group shows.
The healthcare charity says an increase of €20 in the disability allowance in the upcoming budget is needed “as a matter of urgency” to ensure people have access to an adequate minimum income as well as an automatic entitlement to a medical card and an end to prescription charges.
Rehab is also calling for extra support to get more people with disabilities into the workforce and away from the risk of poverty through adequate training and personal assistant hours.
Almost three-quarters of the 300 people surveyed by the organisation reported being dependent on others for their living arrangements, while 70 per cent said money was the biggest obstacle to their independence. Nearly one-third said a lack of suitable accommodation was preventing them from living independently and 13 per cent blamed the lack of personal assistant hours.
Almost 20 per cent said they had difficulties finding suitable accommodation over the last two years with others waiting up to 15 years for housing.
Almost half of those surveyed said their access to transport options “always” or “usually” limited their independence, while many said they were forced to spend an “unacceptable proportion” of their allowance on vital transport. More than 40 per cent said they spend between €11 and €90 a week on transport.
Nine out of 10 people surveyed said they did not receive the mobility allowance even though 60 per cent needed it.
Two-thirds of recipients reported that employers overlook them for jobs and are unwilling to provide the workplace supports they need, while 70 per cent did not have a job. Nearly one-third found that “people don’t want to fire people with disabilities”, while 20 per cent said workplaces are not welcoming to those with disabilities.
Director of communications with the Rehab Group Kathleen O’Meara warned that “very little has changed” since Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities earlier this year and accused the Government of being “selectively blind to the true cost of disability in Ireland”.
Ms O’Meara said the vast majority of people surveyed by Rehab were finding it “difficult” or “very difficult” to live on their allowance, access employment, travel and live independently.
“The way out of poverty for many people with a disability is through employment,” said Ms O’Meara. “There are 600,000 people living with a disability in Ireland, many of whom have vital skills and experience who, with support, could make a valuable contribution to the workforce. With the economy reaching capacity, it is time employers and the Government provided the supports necessary to allow people with disabilities to participate fully in the community and the economy.”