PEOPLE should not be penalised financially for having a disability.
That’s according to Social Democrats disability spokesperson Holly Cairns who has called on the government to commit to introducing a €20 ‘Cost of Disability’ payment and to increase the disability allowance by at least €15, in the forthcoming budget, .
‘The cost of living crisis is out of control. Inflation is now running at nearly 10% and prices, across the economy, are soaring,’ said the Cork South West TD.
‘According to a recent ESRI report, lone parents and people with disabilities are among those most at risk of poverty. In December 2021, a comprehensive new study outlined just how much having a disability can cost – between €8,700 and €12,300 per year,’ she said.
‘Disabled people, and families who have a child with disabilities, spend more on things like heating, transport, therapeutic equipment and medical expenses. Irish people with disabilities also have one of the lowest employment rates in the EU – just 36% – meaning the majority are unable to supplement State supports with private income,’ she said.
A number of West Cork people attended the Dáil last week to hear the debate on the Social Democrats’ motion.
Among them was SD member Evie Nevin, from Clonakilty who has a genetic connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and who knows from her own experience the financial burden of having a disability.
‘The motion calls for a minimum addition of €35 per week for people with disabilities. What may seem like a small sum to many, would mean the world to people like me.
‘Many people don’t realise that disabled people are regularly out of pocket to cover the cost of living with a disability. For example, I have been unable to use my wheelchair because the service to fix it is only available on Wednesdays and is an hour away in the car and an hour back. Driving such a distance in this current climate is extortionately expensive for anyone, never mind people on Disability Allowance or Carers Allowance.’
Laura O’Mahony, who also lives near Clonakilty and who is part of the group campaigning for a special school in West Cork, attended and said: ‘The topic is of particular interest to me as I am the mother of a boy with ASD. The extra €20 a week will help parents fund much needed therapies and supports for their children. Sadly, so much has to be done privately as public services are under so much pressure.
‘The situation in West Cork alone is very bad. Some children have no access to public therapy services at all or are on very long waitlists. Our own son has been put on a long waitlist to go privately. Huge change is needed to protect and support the most vulnerable members of society. We must act now.’