24 September 2022
By Mary Bermingham
People with disabilities could receive up to €50 a week extra under pre-budget proposals put forward by the Social Democrats.
Holly Cairns TD, the party’s spokesperson on Disability, said:
“Despite improvements in funding in recent years, the experience of many disabled people in Ireland continues to be one of social exclusion. The reality is that those living with a disability consistently record some of the highest poverty rates of any group – three times that of the general population.
“Even before the cost-of-living and energy crises, disabled people were disproportionately living in poverty. It is simply shameful that more than two in five people with a disability are suffering from deprivation at any one time.
“The Social Democrats’ alternative budget contains several measures to address this.
“For the first time in our history, we are proposing the introduction of a weekly Cost of Disability payment of €20. We see this as a crucial first step in addressing the significant additional costs of living with a disability.
“We are also looking for a €15 increase in core social welfare payments, to include Disability Allowance, along with a rise in Fuel Allowance from €33 to €48. When all three payments are taken together, qualifying recipients would get a weekly increase of €50, helping to create a clear pathway out of poverty.
“Our budget also includes funding for a Workforce Planning Strategy to help with the recruitment and retention of staff within the HSE’s Children’s Disability Network Teams. There are 91 such teams operating around the country – providing vital early intervention services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy – but not one of them is fully staffed, leading to frustratingly long waiting lists for families.
“We are also in favour of pay parity for Section 39 workers, along with measures to allow disabled people to leave congregated settings and have full access to education or employment opportunities.
“People with disabilities will be among the cohorts most affected by the decisions made in Leinster House next week. Budget 2023 must be heavily weighted in their favour.”