DFI Recommendations for Budget 2016 Submission to the Department of Social Protection

Download this file here »

Summary

To serve the interests of people with disabilities, their families and communities, Budget 2016 must:

 

  1. Ensure all people with disabilities have an adequate income that supports them to live with dignity in accordance with their human rights.
  • Introduce an increase of €20 to Disability Allowance as an interim measure to ensure an adequate income for people with disabilities that reflects the levels of at risk of poverty and deprivation they experience and the extra cost of living with a disability in Ireland.
  • Protect supplementary benefits such as Household Benefits Package, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Free Travel Scheme.
  • Revise the way that poverty statistics are calculated to take account of the extra cost of living with a disability.

 

  1. Ensure people with disabilities have access to all activation and employment measures as well as the appropriate supports for participation.  
  • People with disabilities must be able to access the Youth Guarantee, JobBridge, Momentum, Gateway and Community Employment based on the match between the applicant and the scheme REGARDLESS of what payment they receive. Specialist supports must be made available to support people to access mainstream programmes.
  • Specialist Disability activation and employment programmes must be developed in line with the Comprehensive Employment Strategy to support those furthest from the labour market in line with Pathways to Work.
  • The support requirements of disabled jobseekers must be dealt with professionally and adequately within Intreo.

 

  1. Specialist activation and employment supports must be designed to be applicable for persons with a disability.
  • Introduce greater flexibility for those who move in and out of employment due to the nature of their episodic conditions.
  • Widen the application of partial capacity benefit to support people with disabilities to pursue self-employment.

 

  1. Make work pay for people with disabilities.
  • Introduce tax credits to support people with disabilities to earn an adequate income that raises them out of poverty and ensures that work pays, in recognition of the cost of living with a disability.
  • Widen employer eligibility for the Wage Subsidy Scheme to include employing people on Partial Capacity Benefit to give disabled jobseekers a chance of employment is a competitive jobs market.

 

  1. Make the reality of living with a disability visible in how statistics are compiled.
  • Produce poverty impact assessments to inform budget
  • Change how poverty and deprivation is measured to include more accurate information on the situation of people with disabilities.

 

Introduction

Disability is a societal issue affecting many families in Ireland and impacting on income and participation in the labour market. Budget 2016 must address the level of poverty and deprivation people with disabilities experience so they can exercise their human rights in accordance with the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities and the aspirations of the National Disability Strategy.

To do this, Budget 2016 must address the widening income inequality gap and the relationship between economic inequality and wider measures of personal and societal wellbeing. This must be done by addressing the three pillars of Active inclusion developed by the European Commission in 2008.

Active Inclusion requires adequate income supports, inclusive labour markets, and access to quality services. These three pillars inform this submission.

 

  1. Ensure all people with disabilities have an adequate income that supports them to live with dignity in accordance with their human rights.
  • Introduce an increase of €20 to Disability Allowance as an interim measure to ensure an adequate income for people with disabilities that reflects the levels of at risk of poverty and deprivation they experience and the extra cost of living with a disability in Ireland.

People must be guaranteed an adequate income to live with dignity until such time as the systems that monitor poverty and deprivation are updated to ensure that account is taken of the true cost of living with a disability when making decisions. Cullinan et al (2014) estimated the economic costs of disability as 35% of income (€207 per week) on average. This refers to the additional income required by households at median income levels to attain the same standard of living as an equivalent non-disabled household.[1] An extra €20 in recognition of those costs is a small step towards moving those who were hardest hit in the recession out of deprivation and is practically feasible by widening the tax base. 

  • Protect supplementary benefits such as Household Benefits Package, Domiciliary Care Allowance, and Free Travel Scheme.

The protection of basic payments does not equate with the protection of basic income. Supplementary income supports must be protected and bolstered to reflect growing need to pay for extra medical, transport, and living costs that must be met. This is especially pertinent in the context of the continual decline in the provision of services.

  • Revise the way that poverty statistics are calculated to take account of the extra cost of living with a disability.

Poverty and basic deprivation rates for people with disabilities continue to rise while at the same time social services are being reduced. This results in greater deprivation and poverty than any statistical analysis can show. The Survey on Income and Living Conditions[2] indicates that 53% of people not at work due to disability or illness experience enforced deprivation, an increase of over 30% since 2008. Yet these statistics under-estimate the real economic cost of living with a disability in Ireland. The reliance on income levels to measure poverty means that the level of poverty is underestimated, as where there is a person with a disability in a household the standard of living is reduced due to the extra costs associated with having a disability and the decline of disability supports. Examples of these costs include prescription charges, vital therapies such as speech and language therapy, as well as paying consultant fees in order to get applications for benefits over the bar.  

 

  1. Give people with disabilities access to all activation and employment measures as well as the appropriate supports for participation. 
  • People with disabilities must be able to access the Youth Guarantee, JobBridge, Momentum, Gateway, and Community Employment based on the match between the applicant and the scheme REGARDLESS of what payment they receive. Specialist supports must be made available to support people to access mainstream programmes.

Labour market activation needs to “include all those of working age who are able to work, not just the unemployed”. [3] This means that all labour market activation programmes must be designed to include disabled jobseekers in both eligibility criteria as well as with the provision of supports where required. Doing this will ensure that those closest to the labour market can proceed into work, without having to wait for specialist activation programmes that they may not need to be set in place.

It is not acceptable or economically desirable to have labour market activation programmes that deliberately exclude those on disability or illness payments, so that people are held back to the point that they may later need specialist supports to progress.

The Youth Guarantee was conceived as a European wide measure designed to support all disadvantaged young people, however eligibility in Ireland does not extend to people on Disability Allowance. Ireland now has the third highest number of young people on disability benefit between the ages of 20 and 34: 2.8% compared to an OECD average of 1.5%[4]. Young people with disabilities continue to be left behind as there is no overt policy to help people transition from school to the workforce, with projects tending to reflect active inclusion as a by-product of their activities rather than as an objective[5].  This will lead to further structural inequalities that leave people with disabilities behind. This issue must be addressed in tandem with the Comprehensive Employment Strategy.

  • Specialist Disability activation and employment programmes must be designed to deliver tangible outcomes in line with the Comprehensive Employment Strategy to support those furthest from the labour market in line with Pathways to Work.

Outcomes from activation programmes must be continuously evaluated to ensure that they are delivering for people with disabilities. Those who can and wish to progress into paid work must be supported to do so. It must also be recognised that activation has a social inclusion role, which can also be evaluated.

  • The support requirements of disabled jobseekers must be dealt with professionally and adequately within all Intreo offices.

Disabled jobseekers have equal entitlement to access services as all other jobseekers. Intreo must expand its services and train staff appropriately to have the time and capacity to support disabled customers and the complexity that they may present with. Over half of those living in jobless households are either children or adults with a disability. As 85% of working-age disability is acquired, and households headed by people with a disability are twice as likely to experience unemployment as other households, this issue cannot go unaddressed if we are to reduce poverty in Ireland[6].  

 

  1.  Specialist activation and employment supports must be designed to be applicable for persons with a disability.
  • Introduce greater flexibility for those who move in and out of employment due to the nature of their episodic conditions.

Many people with episodic conditions may have intermittent availability for work. Greater flexibility and timeliness in moving in and out of payments is necessary in order to support people to remain economically and socially active. This is possible through creating protocols that can support people to relate to the social welfare system in a timely and effective manner where they move in and out of work. It requires a lesser emphasis on controls within the system and a greater emphasis on supporting those who genuinely seek to remain active in the labour force.

  • Widen the application of partial capacity benefit to support people with disabilities to pursue self-employment.

Self-employment should provide a very attractive option for many people with disabilities who have reduced availability to work as a result of their disability. It is important that all mainstream supports are extended to those on disability payments. Partial capacity benefit could also provide a vehicle of support to those who are on long term illness payments who are currently prevented from engaging in work.

 

  1. Make work pay for people with disabilities.
  • Introduce tax credits to support people with disabilities to earn an adequate income that raises them out of poverty and ensures that work pays, in recognition of the cost of living with a disability.

People with disabilities must not become the new underclass of workers; they must be afforded an adequate working wage. The risk of getting caught in the category of the working poor in low paid and precarious work is high for people with disabilities, whose educational backgrounds are often poorer than for those without a disability, unless adequate supports are put in place. This includes tax credits to account for the cost of disability.

  • Widen eligibility for medical cards whilst in work based on need over income.

The medical card provides a vital lifeline for many people with disabilities. The ESRI report[7] released in June 2015 concedes that for those households with a higher than average use of a medical card, often due to chronic illness, the impact of losing the medical card is greater than for other families. This research is based on those in receipt of jobseekers allowance only. We would encourage greater analysis of the impact on households where disability is a feature, beyond the three year eligibility period.

  • Widen employer eligibility for the Wage Subsidy Scheme to include employing people on Partial Capacity Benefit to give disabled jobseekers a chance of employment is a competitive jobs market.

People in receipt of invalidity pension or illness benefit are at an unfair disadvantage with other job seekers as potential employers cannot avail of the Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS). These standalone supports are not simultaneously available to support a single employment vacancy, meaning that a disabled person cannot contend with a jobseeker for whom JobsPlus might be applicable. With the introduction of PCB, the restriction of working hours has been lifted and therefore the working hour’s criteria for WSS can be met by the client. As those on PCB have been medically assessed as having a reduced capacity, their employers should be able to access WSS.   

 

  1. Make the reality of living with a disability visible in how statistics are compiled.
  • Produce poverty impact assessments to inform budgetary decisions

Many policy decisions have impacted negatively on the poverty rates of people with disabilities. The social Impact assessment is designed to measure the impact that policy decisions have on poverty levels, yet is seems that these measures are not fully integrated into the policy making process. In line with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission recommendation, DFI calls for the investment in, development of, and wider application of Poverty Impact Assessments as a comprehensive planning tool for social policy.

  • Change how poverty and deprivation is measured to include more accurate information on the situation of people with disabilities.

Introduce disability–adjusted poverty and inequality estimates and equivalence scales that can inform a more realistic payment for disabled people that can allow them to live in dignity.

 

CONCLUSION:  

Budget 2016 must invest in people with disabilities so that they can fully participate both socially and economically. The cost of long term exclusion far outweighs the cost of inclusion in the short term. People with disabilities must be given the means to live with dignity and in accordance with their human rights and to access programmes and services as equal citizens of Ireland.

 

For further information on the content of this submission, please contact Joan O’Donnell, joanodonnell@disability-federation.ie.

 


[1] Cullinan, J & Lyons, S. (2014) The Private Costs of adult disability in J Cullinan, S. Lyons and B, Nolan the Economics of Disability: Insights from Irish Research.

[3] (Watson and Maitre 2013). 

[5] Active Inclusion of Young people with Disabilities or Health Problems, (2010) Eurofound

[6] Europe 2020.

 

click to open/close

DFI Extranet

click to open/close

DFI & Member Upcoming Events

April 2017 Events
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930