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28th Sep 2022

Disability group shares concerns ahead of winter following “disappointing” budget

“Ireland is not prioritising the needs of disabled people and their needs to be included in society as equals.”

Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI), a disability rights organisation, has expressed concerns following Budget 2023.

It was announced this week that the weekly disability allowance will be increased by €12 while those receiving the allowance will receive a once-off payment of €500 and a double payment of the disability allowance before Christmas.

While these measures have been welcomed by ILMI, the group has said that Minister Michael McGrath’s €29 million package for disability services prioritises services that “segregate disabled people”.

In a statement, the group said: “The lack of investment in inclusive supports to promote disabled persons participation in society as per the UNCRPD shows once again that Ireland is not prioritising the needs of disabled people and their needs to be included in society as equals.”

Additionally, the group spoke about how disabled people will struggle amid the energy and fuel crisis.

“We really don’t understand yet how bad it is going to get in regards to fuel and the energy crisis. The knock on effect pushes up the prices of goods, services and the food on our table. Most of us are living from day to day and if we are thinking of the future we are using the little we have to make stockpile band aids of non-perishable food and fuel.”

James Cawley, the group’s policy officer, said that joint-up thinking from the government was needed, instead of once-off payments.

“We have been calling on the Government in our pre budget submission to address the extreme poverty and deprivation rates that disabled people experience – some of who are deciding whether to keep their lights on or charge their wheelchairs adequately.

“We as disabled people are currently facing extreme financial pressure. There needs to be joint up thinking and overall financially sustainability (for us) in the Governments approach not a “once off” which won’t reduce poverty, which won’t improve income inequality and quality of life for us.”

ILMI also pointed to the “cost of disability”. In Ireland, the cost for disabled people to achieve the same standard of living as non-disabled people is estimated to be between €9,000 and €10,000 each year. The group has urged the Government to take the cost of disability into account.

Mr Cawley said: “Disabled people who are on a welfare payment will be left with an income which will be worth less firstly because of the known ‘cost of disability’ and secondly because of the ‘cost of living’ crisis. Therefore, the value of disabled people’s social welfare payment will be less in 2023 than it was at the start of 2022 because of the rising cost of living.”