Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I welcome the publication of the Indecon report on the cost of disability, which was published last week after months of waiting. We were informed last summer that this report was completed. It is regrettable it was not presented to the Government prior to budget 2022 as it might have influenced how spending on disability would be managed in the coming year. I hope the next few months are used wisely to consider the findings in the report and how best to address them as the year progresses and that budget 2023 will reflect these findings.
The report confirms what was widely known but frequently not acknowledged, namely, that there is a significant cost of disability. The cost of disability is the extra spending a person with a disability must face in dealing with day-to-day life that able-bodied people do not have to face. It is what a family with a member who has a disability must spend to achieve the same standard living as that of a family without a member with a disability. People with disabilities have extra costs such as taxi expenses, particularly in rural areas where there are few, if any, public transport options and these are frequently not accessible where they are available, and extra fuel and energy costs, especially where the person is not mobile. They also require adaptations to properties, specialised footwear, assistive technology, additional medication and so on. Unfortunately, many of the services that should be provided in the community through the HSE or other organisations sanctioned by the HSE are non-existent and, again, families must pay privately for these supports.
The report states that the average additional cost of disability for a person with a severe disability is between €9,600 and €12,300 per annum. For those with a less severe disability, it is between €8,700 and €10,000 per annum. That is an average cost. Some people are paying less but there are many who are paying considerably more. The cost is dependent on the level of severity of the disability, but also where the person resides. There are unmet costs for many because some things are not currently affordable. How is the Government preparing to address the findings of this report?