Government need to clarify plans on income support for people with disabilities

June 10 2016


The Disability Federation of Ireland has said that the controversy caused by ministerial briefing documents, which suggest cost saving measures for payments to people with disabilities, is causing concern and worry to many families around the country. CEO of the Disability Federation of Ireland, Senator John Dolan said:

"The publicity surrounding proposals contained in the ministerial briefings for both the Minister for Social Protection and the Minister for Public Expenditure point to a move to a more active case management approach to providing an income for people with disabilities that is based on an assessment that determines capacity to work. This is causing huge alarm and worry to families around the country, who may be affected in any future changes to payments. Living with a disability is expensive and in the absence of adequate social and health services, income support payments are a lifeline for many families and individuals with a disability."

"The Government is obviously concerned with value for money, but people are not merely economic units whose value can be decided by their employment status. The Government need to provide absolute clarity that people with disabilities will be guaranteed an income regardless of their work status. We are very aware of the horrific outcomes experienced by people with disabilities in the UK who have been declared fit for work, despite debilitating conditions including severe mental health issues that were only exacerbated when benefits were reduced or cut," continued Senator Dolan.

The Disability Federation of Ireland welcomes the fact that the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, has been quoted as saying that there are "no savings targets whatsoever when it comes to disability allowance or disability payments", and that "what we are not contemplating - which is what happened in Britain - is people being called in for capacity reviews and being told they have to. That's not the route we are going down." However, DFI insists that there is a need for the Government to spell out what is being proposed in relation to incomes for people with disabilities.

Senator Dolan concluded:"The Government has said that they want to see as many people with disabilities as possible secure quality sustainable work. However, in the absence of any clear proposals in relation to incomes for people with disabilities many families are worried by the unfair and callous cuts advocated in the ministerial briefing documents. It is good that cabinet ministers have distanced themselves from these briefing documents, but, in order to provide reassurance to people with disabilities, it is important that the Government spells out exactly what they are now proposing in relation to income supports."

Contact: John Dolan - 086 7957467
Joan O'Donnell - 086 3834587