People with disabilities struggling to survive on their modest income

More than 60 per cent of people with disabilities are struggling to live on their income, with many regularly going without food and heat to make ends meet, according to a survey by Rehab Group.

As Rehab Group launches its pre-budget submission, it surveyed almost 700 of the people who use its services to reveal the true scale of disability and poverty in this country.

The survey revealed how people with disabilities have difficulty with basic provisions such as food, medication or the ability to afford adequate heating. A total of 94 per cent of those surveyed believe the amount of money they receive from social welfare needs to be increased.

A staggering 84 per cent said they would like to work but currently do not have a job, while a quarter of respondents said they had passed up a job offer because they were worried about losing their benefits. Many said they have never been offered a job.

Fuel poverty remains high on the agenda for people with disabilities, with 77 per cent of respondents saying they needed the fuel allowance payment to be increased in order to adequately heat their homes.

More than 70 per cent said they struggled to pay their prescription charges, with many saying medical card holders should not have to pay these charges.

Isolation was a major theme, with respondents commenting that they simply cannot engage in normal social activities due to financial constraints.

Rehab Group has issued a to-do list for the Government to deliver for people with disabilities: Increase Disability Allowance by €5 per week; reduce monthly cap on prescription charges to a maximum of €20 per month; implement Article 20 of the EU Public Procurement Directives to create jobs for people with disabilities; deliver on promises made in the Make Work Pay Report to improve access to medical cards and travel passes for people with disabilities in work.

Kathleen O’Meara, Rehab’s director of communications and public affairs, said: “People with disabilities encounter all of the costs that everyone else does, as well as the additional costs of having a disability – things like medication, additional transport costs, extra heating expenses, and specialist therapies. These are the same 600,000 people waiting over a decade for an international convention on their rights to be ratified by successive Irish governments. The Government must recognise the dire situation of many people with disabilities in Budget 2018.”

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