'People with a disability who take up some sort of employment will not lose their benefits' - Finian McGrath
People who have a disability and take up some form of employment will not lose any of their state benefits, Disability Minister Finian McGrath has said.
Speaking at the Rehab National Advocacy Conference, Mr McGrath said that the Government was launching a strategy around making work pay for people with disabilities.
"By working in partnership we will achieve the maximum independence, the maximum choice and the inclusion of people who may have physical or intellectual challenges.
"There are a huge reserve of talents and abilities to contribute," Mr McGrath said.
The Disability Minister said that people with disabilities should engage with the programme and work locally in their own families, training centres, community centres and in nationally representative organisations.
He also encouraged people to get involved politically to help bring about change.
Mr McGrath said that a "disability shouldn't determine the path a person should take" and that employers should make "more of an effort" to employ people with disabilities.
Only five per cent of people with an intellectual disability are in the workforce in Ireland.
Director of Communications, Public Affairs and Fundraising with Rehab Group, Kathleen O’Meara said: “The direct costs of having a disability are substantial and have been estimated at 35.4pc of disposable income. At the same time, one in three people not at work due to illness or disability experience enforced deprivation.
"We were heartened to hear Minister McGrath reference a Government scheme set to be launched tomorrow which would allow people with disabilities to protect their benefits. We are hopeful that it will be actioned as soon as possible.
"There are 600,000 people with disabilities in this country, many would take up work if they could keep their secondary benefits. However, up until now there have been no specific measures to incentivise people receiving disability allowance to get a job. We hope that this is about to change,” she concluded.