For some income is down 22% since the start of the recession
25th September 2016
Rehab Group, one of Ireland’s largest charities for people with disabilities, has today published findings of a survey carried out which found that 70% of people who use Rehab’s services everyday are finding it difficult or very difficult to live on the income that they receive from the State.
Of the remaining 30%, most live at home with family which makes their financial position less stressful. However, many would like to live independently but simply can’t afford to.
An assessment of the means of a single person, living alone, in receipt of Disability Allowance and studying with National Learning Network shows a decrease in monthly income of 22% since 2008.
The survey was completed by 650 people who take part Rehab’s training, education and community support services in 46 locations throughout Ireland. People were asked about their financial situations and their hopes for Budget 2017.
The survey found that people with disabilities struggle every week to stay on top of their bills. People spoke of being always short of money and needing to borrow money for even the most basic necessities. Food, rent and basic bills consume most people’s weekly income. There is no room for extras and people spoke of the isolating effect of poverty, as well as the impact that it has on their mental health.
Speaking in relation to the survey’s findings, Dan McSweeney, a student in National Learning Network in Cork, spoke of the real struggles that people with disabilities and people with mental health difficulties are facing, “We didn’t choose to have a disability or to be ill. Many people struggle to get by on the money they have. We all have difficulties paying our bills and we are very lucky if we have any money left over at the end of the week. There is no ability to save for an emergency. Many of us would like to work but we can’t for many reasons. We don’t want luxuries, we just want to be able to afford the necessities”. Michael O’Brien, who goes to RehabCare’s services in Cork said, ‘It just seems like it’s been one thing after another. Disability Allowance was cut, the phone allowance was taken away, and prescription charges keep getting higher. Last year they gave us back some of the Christmas Bonus which at least gives us some money to buy presents. It’s still very hard to get by. Many people are struggling.”
Basic social welfare payments have remained untouched since 2011 but other payments such as the household benefits package and training allowances have been cut. An assessment of the means of a single person, living alone, in receipt of Disability Allowance and studying with National Learning Network shows a drop in monthly income of 22% since 2008.
Speaking in relation to the survey’s findings, launched in advance of Budget 2017, Kathleen O’Meara, Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Fundraising with Rehab, said “Economic recovery may have begun in Ireland but austerity continues for the people using our services and people with disabilities in general. Most of our people are dependent on social welfare because they face enormous obstacles in getting a job. People with disabilities are only half as likely to be working as others of working age.
People with disabilities have now experienced eight years of cuts and reductions. Budget 2017 is an opportunity for the Government to recognise the specific situation of people with disabilities in relation to their ability to work and the cost of their disability by alleviating their financial position”
In advance of Budget 2017, people using Rehab’s services throughout Ireland are calling on the Government to make the following changes to alleviate the position of people with disabilities.
1. Restore disposable income and quality of life for people in receipt of Disability Allowance through increases in Disability Allowance and other benefits
2. Restore the Christmas Bonus to 100%
3. Fund new research into the real cost of living with a disability
4. Increase Jobseekers payments for people under 26
5. Extend the fuel allowance to the end of April
6. Fully reinstate the Household Benefits Package
7. Abolish prescription charges over time and immediately reduce the monthly maximum for individuals
8. Invest in Mental Health Services increasing expenditure to 12% of the health budget over three years
9. Provide indefinite medical card eligibility for all people with disabilities who enter work from a disability-related social welfare payment
10. Reinstate the SOLAS Training Allowance to incentivise participation in further training and education
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Notes for the Editor
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 and Poland.