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Holly Cairns TD, Social Democrats spokesperson for Disability Issues, has expressed disappointment that core welfare payments for people with disabilities have not been increased in Budget 2021.

Holly said:

“We all welcome the €100 million increase in funding to assist people with disabilities, which will help with the reopening of day services and move people from institutional settings to supported community-based living.

“This is the direction we need to be going in but considerably more needs to be done to achieve commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are thousands of people living in larger settings of ten or more residents and we need a clear multi-year delivery plan with the necessary ring-fenced funding to move them from congregated conditions.

“We must reach a situation where people with disabilities and their advocates do not have to fight for this basic right.

“This is not just about money – it is about the systems that achieve the intended goals, especially in an area where the people affected are often not heard. We need a flexible and progressive approach that is centred on the needs and priorities of the people concerned. This must be our guiding principle.

“While there have been increases to a range of social welfare allowances, the core payments have not been raised which is of concern to many families. There have been calls to increase the Pandemic Unemployment Payment because it is insufficient – but contrast that with Disability Allowance at €203 a week. It’s worth remembering that people will be on this payment for the rest of their lives.

“It’s little wonder we have one of the highest rates of poverty and social exclusion in the EU for people with disabilities.

“Unbelievably, there is no change to Carer’s Benefit, Carer’s Allowance and Domiciliary Care Allowance in the budget. The Government continues to pay lip service to people who dedicate all their waking hours to care for loved ones and others, without respite in many cases.

“In educational terms, I welcome the additional 990 Special Needs Assistants and 403 teachers, which will help create a more inclusive system. I am seeking clarification if additional resources have been allocated for students with disabilities in third-level education.”

October 15, 2020

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