MORE than 60pc of people with disabilities are struggling to live on their income and many regularly have to go without food and heat to make ends meet, according to a wide-ranging survey by Rehab Group.
As Rehab Group, one of the country’s largest disability charities, launches its pre-budget submission it surveyed almost 700 of the people who use its services to reveal the true scale of disability and poverty in this country.
The survey revealed how people with disabilities have difficulty with basic provisions such as food, medication or the ability to afford adequate heating. A total of 94pc of those surveyed believe the amount of money they receive from social welfare needs to be increased.
People with disabilities also face huge obstacles getting a job. A staggering 84pc of people surveyed say they would like to work but currently don’t have a job, while a quarter of respondents said they had passed up a job offer because they were worried about losing their benefits. Many also commented that they had never been offered a job.
Fuel poverty remains high on the agenda for people with disabilities with 77pc of respondents saying they needed the fuel allowance payment to be increased in order to be able to adequately heat their homes.
More than 70pc said they struggled to pay their prescription charges with many saying medical card holders should not have to pay these charges.
Isolation was a major theme of the survey as a result of financial difficulties with many people commenting that they simply could not engage in normal social activities, such as going out for a drink or a meal due to financial constraints.
In the run up to Budget 2018, Rehab Group has issued a ‘to do’ list for the Government to deliver for people with disabilities. Among the key asks are:
- Increase Disability Allowance by €5 per week to recognise that while people with disabilities are working age, not all are in a position to work.
- Reduce monthly cap on prescription charges for people with disabilities to a maximum of €20 per month, in line with provision already made for people over 70.
- Implement Article 20 of the EU Public Procurement Directives to create jobs for people with disabilities. This allows public contracts to be reserved for organisations employing 30% people with disabilities and people who are disadvantaged.
- Deliver on promises made in the Make Work Pay Report to improve access to medical cards and travel passes for people with disabilities in work.
Kathleen O’Meara, Rehab’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, says the position of people with disabilities has become “untenable”.
“People with disabilities encounter all of the costs that everyone else does, as well as the additional costs of having a disability – things like medication, additional transport costs, extra heating expenses, specialist therapies etc. These are the same 600,000 people waiting over a decade for an international convention on their rights to be ratified by successive Irish governments. The Government must recognise the dire situation of many people with disabilities in Budget 2018.”
“The link between disability, unemployment and poverty sees people living in inadequate housing, with poor nutrition with little health supports. This places them at risk of developing physical and mental health problems due to increased stress and isolation. Its past time that people with disabilities were prioritised and given the tools to play an active role in society.”
The organisation, which supports over 20,000 people, says the Government cannot treat people with disabilities like any other person who is unemployed and dependent on social welfare.
To read our full Budget 2018 submission / To Do List click – Budget 2018 To Do List
Rehab is a charity that champions the value of diversity and inclusion for people with a disability or disadvantage in their communities. Our mission is to help the people we serve to be more independent and to contribute to and be more included in their communities; empowering them with the skills and confidence to be active in the workforce, and supporting them to be in charge of their health and wellness. Over 20,000 people use Rehab’s services – children and adults with disability, people on the autism spectrum, people with mental health difficulties and people who are disadvantaged in some way in the labour market. More than 3,200 employees deliver Rehab’s services in over 170 locations in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Poland and Saudi Arabia.