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No progress on disability in Budget 2020

Disability is strongly associated with poverty in Ireland. Among people who are unable to work due to illness or disability more than one in three (35.4%) live on an income below the poverty line. Among those who are able to work many people with a disability are unemployed; a classification where more than four in ten are in poverty.Research from the National Disability Authority and the Workplace Relations Commission highlights the challenges people with disabilities have in finding employment and remaining in a job given the daily challenges many face.

Budget 2020 did not take the necessary steps to improve services and funding for this area. In fact it would be more precise to say that Budget 2020 continued to neglect those with a disability. As was pointed out by DFI's Head of Policy, Dr. Joanne McCarthy, in the wake of the Budget, "Brexit is just this year’s excuse for failing to stop a marginalisation which makes us the forgotten vulnerable".

It is true that there are few groups more vulnerable than peole disabilities, who have seen poverty rates increase greatly over the last decade, and they remain uniquely exposed and unprotected after a Budget that was framed as one that would "protect the vulnerable".

There were some positives, including additional investment in special needs education, improved access to pre-school for children with disabilities, an increases in the home carers’ credit and funding for the Autism Plan. There was also and increase in the respite allowance.

However, Social Justice Ireland regrets that the Budget did not move to introduce a cost of disability payment despite Government commissioning work on this issue in Budget 2019. If people with a disability are to be equal participants in society, the extra costs generated by their disability should not be borne by them alone. Progress on this issue is long overdue.