Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Department of Social Protection
62. To ask the Minister for Social Protection if he will introduce a cost of disability top-up payment to recognise the additional costs of a disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35932/16]
The various illness and disability payments administered by my Department provide income support for people with a disability and their dependants. These support payments are continually kept under review to ensure that they continue to meet their objectives.
In addition to income support payments, my Department also provides a range of employment and employability supports. These are structured to encourage and assist people on long-term illness and disability payments to identify and take up available employment, training, educational and other self-development opportunities, where this is appropriate to their underlying conditions.
These payments and supports make a very significant contribution to broader poverty and social inclusion goals. However, direct payments do not answer some of the wider social issues affecting people with disabilities, which include a desire for greater participation in the labour market. Improved employment rates and better co-ordinated supports and services could result in significantly improvement for people with disability.
In relation to the former, the Government’s Comprehensive Employment Strategy seeks to increase employment rates for persons with disability through a series of coordinated measures across a range of Government Departments and Agencies.
In relation to the latter, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to examine the role of personalised budgets for persons with a disability. The Government has established a Task Force on Personalised Budgets to consider the commitment to give people with disabilities greater control, independence and choice in terms of obtaining HSE-funded personal social services and supports, in the first instance. Personalised budgets transfer control back to the individual and give them the freedom to source the services and supports which best meet their needs.