Inclusion indicators 2023 - Ireland scores 5.2 out of 10

Posted on Monday, 1 April 2024
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Inclusion Europe have published a new report, Inclusion indicators 2023 - Rights and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in 29 European countries examining equality and access for the 20 million people in the EU with intellectual disabilities and their families. Ireland scores 5.2 out of 10. 


in 2023, Inclusion Europe gathered data from across 29 European countries, 23 of which are members of the European Union. The indicators chosen " reflect experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and their families provided by their representative organisations".

Inclusion indicators focused on seven topics that were important to people with intellectual disabilities and families:

  1. Right to decide and right to vote
  2. Right to live independently and to be included in the community
  3. Housing and support
  4. Education
  5. Employment
  6. Healthcare
  7. Representation

Key findings

Making decisions about ones’ life

  • In 26 countries a person’s legal capacity can be removed, and they cannot decide about their own money, or where to live, or who to marry.
  • In 7 countries people under guardianship cannot vote at all.
  • In 15 countries people with intellectual disabilities are restricted to stand for elections.
  • Only 5 countries fully respect the right to vote and make voting accessible.

The report notes that "All of these are grave violations of people’s rights as protected by law signed by these countries (UN CRPD)".

Segregated settings

  • 750,000 people with intellectual disabilities must live in segregated “care” institutions with 30 persons or more in one place.
  • 39,000 “live” in psychiatric hospitals.

Reliance on family support

  • In 21 countries few or no adults with intellectual disabilities live in their own place. That is a far cry from how adults in Europe typically live.
  • Many are forced to segregated institutions (see above).
  • Many more live with their parents until they are unable to provide daily support. Family members become disability support providers instead of being just parents or siblings.

Increased access to education 

  • 1,1 million children with intellectual disabilities are in mainstream schools. This allows them to grow up alongside their non-disabled schoolmates, develop important skills, and belong in the community where they live.
  • Still, 700,000 are in special schools, deprived of the positive effects of inclusive schooling.
  • 20,000 children with intellectual disabilities are getting no education at all.

Work to be done on access to employment

  • Less than 10% of people with intellectual disabilities have a paid job. (Employment rate for people with disabilities in general is 50%, and 75% for people without disabilities.)
  • In 17 countries people with intellectual disabilities risk losing disability benefits when they earn their salary.
  • Similarly, lack of support means family members, mostly women, have to leave the labour market and stay at home with their disabled family member.

Ireland Findings

The report notes that a "perfect score (10 out of 10) in all 7 indicators would show full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in a country". The following are the rankings for Ireland. 

Right to decide and right to vote - 5.9

Legal capacity can be partially removed, but it does not limit the right to vote or to stand for elections. There is no easy-to-read information on elections available.

Right to live independently and to be included in the community - 4

Some adults with intellectual disabilities live in smaller institutions and some of them live in larger institutions.

Housing and support - 3.6

Most adults with intellectual disabilities live with their family and they receive little support. Few people live in their own place.

Education - 5

Most children with intellectual disabilities go to special schools, some go to mainstream schools and few have no education.

Employment - 2.5

Few people with intellectual disabilities have a job on the open labour market and they risk to lose their disability benefits when they earn their own salary.

Healthcare 6.6

Most people with intellectual disabilities have access to general healthcare, only few have a physiotherapist.

Representation - 9

People with intellectual disabilities are represented in the national cross-disability organisation. Inclusion Ireland receives government funding for their advocacy work.


Policy Proposals 

  • Introduce a cost of disability allowance to address poverty and social exclusion of people with a disability.
  • Social Justice Ireland believes that further efforts should be made to reduce the impediments faced by people with a disability to obtain employment. In particular, consideration should be given to reforming the current situation in which many face losing their benefits when they take up employment. For many disabled people the opportunity to take up employment is denied to them and they are trapped in unemployment, poverty, or both.
  • According to the Summary of Social Housing Needs Assessments, 5,521 households reported, as the Main Need for Social Housing Support, a household member as having an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual disability, or a need for accommodation on medical or compassionate grounds. Government must ensure that funding for the Disabled Persons Grant scheme (DPG) which supports adaptations and extensions to existing Local Authority housing stock and the Improvement Works in Lieu of Local Authority Housing Scheme (IWILS) which supports improvements or extensions to private housing stock where the tenant has been approved for social housing continues to match the need. However, more will need to be done for the 12.4 per cent of disabled people who are are living in the private rented sector. Social Justice Ireland believes that ensuring that people with a disability can live independently where possible should be a key policy priority. Providing the resources for this, including suitable housing and housing-related supports, must be one of the foundations of such a policy
  • Public policies on disability have been set out in many documents including the 2004 National Disability Strategy (and its 2013 implementation plan) and the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, 2017-2021. The HSE developed the Transforming Lives programme intended to build better services. Following recommendations from a Taskforce on Personalised Budgets, demonstration projects were established to examine a model for the roll-out of these payment models. Work is also ongoing relative to establishing a statutory homecare scheme. Despite a range of policy documents over years proposing major changes in the way that disability services are delivered, Social Justice Ireland is concerned that the pace of change is too slow. Social Justice Ireland called for a dedicated reform fund to support the transition to a new model of service, given the scale of infrastructural development required to move away from communal settings towards a community based, person-centred model of service. We are concerned that current resources are insufficient to meet the current unmet needs for residential and day services as well as the significant waiting lists for children services. It goes without saying that disabled people need to be supported, not only by the health service, but also across the range of government and local authority areas of work.