A GROUP of students affected by the axing of a vital allowance which enables people with disabilities to attend training courses and access employment gathered at Leinster House today to appeal to the Minister for Health to reverse the decision.
Hundreds of young school leavers with a disability set to take up training programmes next month are to have a special allowance of €31.80 per week axed. Disability groups say this will have a devastating impact on those who need specialist supports to access further education and employment.
The allowance is currently available to 2,300 young people who have a disability, who are leaving school and going on to do a Rehabilitative Training Programme. Rehabilitative Training, which is funded by the HSE, is geared towards supporting young school leavers with disabilities to develop a range of skills that will support them in developing independence and progressing to further education or employment. The allowance is a clear recognition of the fact that these young people need extra support during this difficult transition into further education or work.
Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Fundraising with Rehab Group, Kathleen O’Meara said: “The allowance for those on Rehabilitative Training is a vital financial support. This small allowance facilitates young students to pay for travel and basic sustenance to attend training courses that can be far from their homes, particularly in rural Ireland. This move is an attack on society’s most vulnerable people who are reliant on this small allowance to be able to access training and employment. Our centres were informed yesterday in writing of this move, and for many, the axing of this allowance could mean young people leaving school will be faced with little option but to stay at home.”
A group of students who attend National Learning Network in Cork are set to gather at Leinster House today from 12.15pm to protest the move. About 400 students hoping to access rehabilitative training courses with Rehab Group’s learning and training division, National Learning Network (NLN), this September will be affected by the cut along with hundreds more across other organisations.
Ms O’Meara added: “The value of the allowance is €31.80 per student per week so the overall saving to Government would be minimal and yet it is a vital lifeline to those who need specialist supports to access further education or to enter the workforce. We see every day how courses like those provided by NLN can change lives, if people are prevented from accessing such training it will ultimately cost the State more down the line. We appeal to the Minster of Health, Simon Harris and the HSE to reinstate this vital payment as a matter of urgency.”
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