Unite calls for new ‘Cost of Disability’ payment, highlights need to facilitate employment of those with disabilities

December 3rd: Unite today 01_disabled workers badgecalled for a new Cost of Disability payment tailored to individual needs and designed to cover the extra costs incurred by virtue of have a disability. In a Unite Comment published today, the union also called for increased in-kind supports for people with disabilities.  The union pointed out that people with disabilities are twice as likely to live in deprivation as the national average, and that Irish disability supports are nearly 80 per cent below the European average.

Commenting, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:

“People with disabilities are twice as likely to experience deprivation as the national average.  This is due to a range of factors, including low employment participation and the cost of disability itself.

“Whereas in other European countries, half of people reporting disabilities are employed, this figure falls to less than 30 percent in Ireland. We are at the bottom of the EU-15 table.  Assisting people with disabilities into work – and assisting employers to facilitate their participation – is a key component of moving people out of deprivation and poverty.  There needs to be a concerted drive to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded as employment rises over the years ahead.

“At the same time, we need to improve the financial and in-kind supports available to people with disabilities, which is why Unite is proposing a new Cost of Disability payment tailored to individual needs, combined with improved in-kind supports”, Jimmy Kelly said.

Regional Equalities Officer Taryn Trainor said:

“Unite estimates that the new Cost of Disability payment we are proposing, together with enhanced in-kind supports, would require a combined €1.3 billion over the next five years – or an extra €260 million per annum.  This investment would  yield a significant economic benefit in terms of increased personal spending as well as spending on the goods and services provided as part of a personalised ‘Cost of Disability’ package.

“We cannot afford to have hundreds of thousands of people effectively excluded from our social and economic life.  Improving supports for people with disabilities would be one of the best value-for-money decisions the Government could make”, Taryn Trainor concluded.

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