Disability charity finds 70% of people struggle every week to make ends meet

Rehab Group finds many want to live independently but cannot afford to

Disability charity finds 70% of people struggle every week to make ends meet

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A charity for people with disabilities says 70% of them it difficult to live on the income they receive from the State.

The Rehab Group has published the survey which found of the remaining 30%, most live at home with family which makes their financial position less stressful.

However, it also says many would like to live independently but simply cannot afford to.

An assessment of the means of a single person, living alone, in receipt of disability allowance and studying with the National Learning Network shows a decrease in monthly income of 22% since 2008.

The survey was completed by 650 people who take part Rehab's training, education and community support services throughout Ireland.

People were asked about their financial situations and their hopes for Budget 2017.

The survey found that people with disabilities struggle every week to stay on top of their bills.

People spoke of being always short of money and needing to borrow for basic necessities.

Food, rent and basic bills consume most of people's weekly income, it found.

"There is no room for extras and people spoke of the isolating effect of poverty, as well as the impact that it has on their mental health", Rehab says.

"We don't want luxuries"

Speaking in relation to the findings, Dan McSweeney - a student in National Learning Network in Cork - spoke of the struggle that people with disabilities and mental health difficulties are facing.

"We didn't choose to have a disability or to be ill. Many people struggle to get by on the money they have.

"We all have difficulties paying our bills and we are very lucky if we have any money left over at the end of the week.

"There is no ability to save for an emergency. Many of us would like to work but we can't for many reasons. We don't want luxuries, we just want to be able to afford the necessities".

Basic social welfare payments have remained unchanged since 2011 - but other payments such as the household benefits package and training allowances have been cut.

Budget 2017

Kathleen O'Meara, director of communications with Rehab, added: "Economic recovery may have begun in Ireland but austerity continues for the people using our services and people with disabilities in general.

"Most of our people are dependent on social welfare because they face enormous obstacles in getting a job.

"People with disabilities are only half as likely to be working as others of working age. People with disabilities have now experienced eight years of cuts and reductions.

"Budget 2017 is an opportunity for the Government to recognise the specific situation of people with disabilities in relation to their ability to work and the cost of their disability by alleviating their financial position."

Rehab is calling on the Government to make changes to alleviate the position of people with disabilities - including restoring disposable income and quality of life for people in receipt of disability allowance, and to fund new research into the real cost of living with a disability.

They also want the prescription charges abolished over time - as well as an immediate reduction in the monthly maximum charge for individuals.

And they are calling on the Government to increase Jobseekers payments for people under 26, and to provide "indefinite" medical card eligibility for all people with disabilities, who enter work from a disability-related social welfare payment.