DFI calls on the government to prioritise support to disabled people as it develops the new cost of living package
February 17 2023, 02:01pm
DFI has written to the government today asking that disabled people are prioritised as it develops the new cost of living package. You can read the detail of our correspondence below:
DFI welcomes the current discussions on extending the cost of living supports that brought welcome relief to many people at risk of poverty in the latter part of last year. We particularly welcome An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s recent comments highlighting the need to target support to people and families in Ireland who are suffering the most, and who rely on our social protection system to survive. We call on the government to prioritise support to disabled people as it develops the new cost of living
Many disabled people already lived in a cost of living crisis, even before the current inflation spiral. People with disabilities are disproportionately at risk of poverty and deprivation in Ireland, and were already more likely to be in arrears on their utility bills long before the current crisis, as the INDECON report shows.
The ongoing price rises have made things even more difficult for disabled people, especially those who are unable to work, given their low income, high rates of poverty and the extra costs they live with.
For example, as the CSO SILC Deprivation data shows, last year:
• 42.7% of people unable to work due to long-standing health problems (disability) live in enforced deprivation. This is 2.5 times higher than the national average of 17.1%.
• 1 in 5 persons unable to work due to long-standing health problems (disability) went without heating at some point in the last year.
DFI calls on the government to prioritise targeted measures to support disabled people on low and fixed incomes in the forthcoming cost of living package, to avoid more disabled people being pushed further into poverty.
The government must provide ongoing, targeted support in the form of adequate social welfare rates and supports for disabled people, as well as one-off payments.
The cost of living package should include:
• A second €500 Disability Support Grant payment, to address the substantial additional costs that disabled people and their families face to pay for essential necessities such as food, transport, heat, electricity and housing
• An increase of core social welfare rates for disability by an additional €8 per week, to keep up with inflation
• A cost of living one-off double payment for those receiving disability and caring social protection payments.
Long before this crisis disabled people were locked into poverty, because our social protection rates are below the poverty line, and do not factor in and make sufficient provision for the extra costs of having a disability. To avoid having to make these one-off payments to prevent people being pushed into poverty in the future, DFI requests the government to also prioritise ongoing targeted support and income adequacy for those who rely on our social protection system to live. Social protection payments should ultimately move to achieve the recommendations of the Minimum Essential Standard of Living, MESL, and fully address the cost of disability.