The Government’s Green Paper on disability payment reforms would, in practice, further marginalise disabled people and should be scrapped, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.
Deputy Cairns, who is the party’s spokesperson on disability, said:
“Although couched in language of care, this proposal from the Minister for Social Protection would demonise people with disabilities and blame them for the Government’s failures.
“Under the plan, disabled people would be subjected to a medical assessment and categorised into three tiers based on their ability to work. Those with no capacity to work would get a slightly higher weekly payment – the others will be expected to take up training or find a job.
“This insulting proposal is a carbon copy of a discredited system that was introduced in the UK under austerity measures in 2008.
“The Government is trying to justify the measure on the basis that Ireland has the lowest rate of employment for disabled people in the EU. However, the plan fails to explain the reasons for this or identify the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from taking up work.
“The reality is that chronic lack of State services and supports are the primary reason so many disabled people are denied educational opportunities and cut out of the workforce.
“If the Government genuinely wants to reform the area of disability, it needs to stop treating disabled people as second-class citizens. This means providing adequate services and supports; a weekly cost-of-disability payment that actually reflects the significant expenses faced by disabled people; and the immediate ratification of the optional protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“I stand in solidarity with the coalition of disability groups protesting outside Leinster House today in calling for the Government’s proposed reforms to be scrapped.”
December 7, 2023