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People with disability 'twice as likely to experience poverty' - charity

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Charities have called for more public spending to improve the lives of people with disabilities

Charities have called for more public spending to improve the lives of people with disabilities

Charities have called for more public spending to improve the lives of people with disabilities

People with a disability are twice as likely to experience poverty due to the extra costs they incur, a charity has warned.

There is 'substantial evidence' that the additional costs of having a disability can place a household “at significant risk of poverty and deprivation”, according to new research acquired by Inclusion Ireland.

Dr John Cullinan from NUI Galway has found that the direct costs of disability can amount to as much as €207 per week, or 35.4 per cent of a household’s disposable income. 

The researcher found the cost is large and has “a significant negative impact” on the living standards of the disabled and their families.

Inclusion Ireland has also warned that the actual number of people with a disability experiencing poverty is much higher than official statistics.

Dr Dorothy Watson from the ESRI will release her analysis tomorrow of how deprivation has increased and remains substantially higher for people with a disability.

Only 20 pc of people with a disability are at work compared with 50pc of the general population.

And the employment rate of people with an intellectual disability is stark - at around 5pc.

Inclusion Ireland is holding a national conference in Dublin tomorrow on the cost of disability. The conference follows a campaign by distressed parents earlier this week to show the Government how the extra costs of speech and language therapy, in particular, is placing huge demands on their household budgets.

Almost 3,000 children are waiting for at least a year for speech and language therapy - and another 1,940 are in long queues just to be assessed.

Nuala O'Callaghan, from Lucan in Dublin, whose three sons Dara, Evan and Jamie have needed speech and language therapy, told the Irish Independent this week that a session costs around €100.

A cost of disability payment was first recommended by the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities in 1996.

In 2004 the National Disability Authority called for the introduction of a cost of disability payment, arguing that: “A cost of disability payment would help equalise the cost of living experienced by people with disabilities, whether they were in employment or not.”

Inclusion Ireland is calling on the Taoiseach to establish a Cost of Disability Commission to examine how the extra costs of disability can be addressed to alleviate poverty and deprivation among people with a disability and their families.

“We call on the Minister for social Protection to request that the Advisory Group on Social Welfare and Taxation investigate the interaction between the social welfare and taxation as they relate to people with a disability,” a statement from the charity said.

“We call on the Minister for Finance to include specific measures in Budget 2015 to enable people in receipt of disability allowance to maintain secondary benefits – such as the travel pass and medical card - when taking employment.”

Online Editors