Inclusion Ireland welcomes the recent (19.03.19) publication of a request for tenders by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for research into the cost of disability. The Department had announced in Budget 2019 that it would provide €300,000 to commission research in 2019 on the additional costs of living with a disability.
According to the recent announcement by the Department, once researchers are identified, the mixed method research, including the direct experience of people with disabilities, will begin in April 2019 and be completed by the end of the year.
Inclusion Ireland has advocated for a cost of disability commission for several years and this research has the potential to address one of the most prevailing inequalities in Irish society.
Cost of Disability and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Following the State’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), it is essential that measures are taken to address persistent poverty rates.
Article 28 of the UNCRPD is concerned with an adequate standard of living and social protection and requires States to “ensure access by persons with disabilities…to social protection programmes and poverty reduction programmes”.
Poverty is a barrier to the enjoyment of many other rights that people with disabilities hold and it is essential that measures are taken to not only ensure that people with disabilities have an adequate income but also to address the extra costs that people with disability experience.
Lessons can be learned from our closest neighbours in the UK where the UNCRPD Committee found that the UK’s failure to ensure an adequate standard of living for disabled persons amounted to “grave or systematic violations” of the rights of disabled persons.
Ireland has an opportunity to put in place measures, following this research, to ensure an adequate standard of living in advance of our first reporting cycle.
What causes the extra costs? Ask people with disabilities
In order to address cost of disability, it is necessary to find out what are the driving factors behind the extra costs. The best way of doing this is to ask people with disabilities.
The participation of people with disabilities themselves is paramount to the process and the recently published report “Effective Participation in Decision-Making” as part of the Transforming Lives programme to implement the recommendations of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services in Ireland, could be used as a good way of ensuring effective and meaningful participation.
It is also important that other stakeholders are widely consulted and involved as this is a far-reaching issue that is important to all government departments, businesses, public bodies and society at large.
Research must be followed by action
Research funded by the National Disability Authority in 2004 used a number of ways to measure cost of disability and clearly established that persons with disabilities experience extra costs.
The National Disability Authority said at the time that the evidence presented in the research supported the introduction of a cost of disability payment to meet the extra costs experienced by people with disabilities. However, no such payment was introduced.
It is paramount that research is followed by a robust policy response and that after this research, comes action. To really change the impact of cost of disability we must go beyond research and change our systems so that people with disabilities can have their rights fully realised.
See the announcement by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection at this link
See Inclusion Ireland’s easy to read and public friendly guides to poverty and disability at this link