Hundreds of young school leavers with a disability will remain disadvantaged and at risk of poverty after the Government ignored calls to reinstate a vital training allowance cruelly axed this summer.
Six disability organisations are calling for the Rehabilitative Training Allowance of €31.80 per week to be reinstated. Disability Federation of Ireland, Rehab Group, Central Remedial Clinic, Irish Wheelchair Association, Aontas and Inclusion Ireland believe this cut will widen the poverty gap for people living with a disability. Their call has also been supported by autism advocacy group AsIAm and the Irish Association of Social Workers.
The withdrawal of the weekly allowance has prevented people with few other options open to them from starting a RT course. It also places even more barriers to participation in the path of people with a disability. One in four people with a disability live in consistent poverty, compared with 8 per cent of the general population. It beggars belief that the Government has cut this allowance in the absence of the Cost of Disability research findings it pledged €300,000 to commission in Budget 2019.
The cut has meant many newly enrolled students opting out of essential course outings – designed to develop social skills and independence – creating a two-tier system in classrooms.
Joan Carthy, spokesperson for the group, said: “We are hugely disappointed that the Government has ignored us and the voices of students directly affected by this cut.
“In September we presented a solution to this issue, which would have seen the RT allowance restored for all new entrants, while the Government conducted a speedy review to see how the RT allowance should be paid in the future. If it concluded that another agency (such as SOLAS, for instance) was a better home for the RT allowance, we would accept that.
“However, the Government has chosen not to listen. This cruel cut is targeted at people who have already overcome significant disadvantage throughout their lives. It places enormous pressure on students and their families to fill the financial gap created.
“The overall saving to Government of the cut this year is just €250,000, a minimal amount and yet it is a vital lifeline to those who need specialist supports to access further education or to enter the workforce.
“If people are prevented from accessing such training it will ultimately cost the State more down the line. Very little has changed since Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last year. This decision indicates that the Government remains selectively blind to the true cost of disability in Ireland.”
For further information please contact Rehab group Communications Executive, Lynne Caffrey, firstname.lastname@example.org or 087 2783053
Notes: Each year, approximately 400 people with a physical or mental disability commence a Rehabilitative Training (RT) course. RT focuses on the development of life skills, social skills and basic work skills with the objective of enhancing the student’s quality of life and preparing them for work or further education. RT courses generally last between two and four years. RT is provided by a wide range of organisations throughout Ireland including Rehab, the Central Remedial Clinic and the Irish Wheelchair Association.