A COMMITMENT by Government is urgently needed to tackle the unacceptably high 26 per cent unemployment rate amongst people with disabilities, according to Rehab, one of Ireland’s largest disability charities.
Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) relating to Census 2016 reveals that unemployment rates amongst people with disabilities was 26.3 per cent, more than double the 12.9 per cent figure for the population as a whole.
Although the figures show there was a disabled working population of 584,045, just 130,067 people with disabilities were at work. Overall in April 2016, 6.5 per cent of people at work had a disability.
Rehab, Ireland’s largest independent charity for people with disabilities, says the Government needs to take urgent action to tackle the alarming unemployment rates amongst people with disabilities.
The organisation, which supports over 17,000 people, says that people with disabilities are being left behind as the economy continues to grow.
Speaking following the publication of the Census figures, Kathleen O’Meara, Rehab’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, said: “While these figures are not shocking, they are unacceptably high. Every day in our services throughout the country we support people into employment, and we speak to people who can and want to work, but the supports are simply not available.
“The Government needs to take proactive steps to ensure there are enough jobs for people with disabilities. We hear from Government that unemployment levels have dropped significantly since the recession in 2008, but people with disabilities are not feeling any of this recovery.”
A recent survey amongst people using Rehab’s services shows that 85per cent of people would like a job but couldn’t get one, while a concerning 64% said they would be worried about losing their benefits if they were offered a job in the future.
Ms O’Meara added that measures promised in the Make Work Pay Report, which would have seen an increase in the income threshold for medical cards for people with disabilities, have not been implemented by Government.
“This is a serious barrier for thousands of people. Also, Ireland is the only country in Europe which has still failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, a vital international agreement which would afford people with disabilities the same basic human rights as everyone else. The Government really need to take action to show they are serious about improving the quality of life for the 643,131 people with disabilities,” said Ms O’Meara.