I thank Members for the opportunity to speak this afternoon about disability. It is important that we have these debates to keep the disability issue live in mainstream politics. I am particularly pleased to have this opportunity in the context of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was marked yesterday. This is a UN sanctioned day, which is celebrated internationally on 3 December each year. This year's theme is "Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership". The theme encourages us to work together to ensure that the barriers to full equality and participation for people with disabilities will become a thing of the past. It focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities and recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue. I will speak about the work that is under way across government to support these overarching principles and objectives.
The national disability inclusion strategy, NDIS, is the major framework for policy and action to address the needs of people with disabilities. It contains 114 measurable and time-specific actions that relate to eight key themes, including education, employment, health and well-being and transport. Its overarching objective is to improve the lives of people with disabilities in a practical sense and to create the best opportunities for people with disabilities to fulfil their potential. When I launched the strategy in July 2017, it was never my intention that it would be set in stone for the duration. The strategy is a living document and must be capable of responding to emerging priorities and developments. That is why it contained a commitment to a mid-term review. The aim is to ensure that the strategy remains relevant for the rest of its lifetime.
It is always a priority for me to hear the views of people with lived experience and their families and from disability organisations. It is important, therefore, that the review be informed by a consultation process.
We had two events last month aimed at getting the views of all the stakeholders. The first was held in Dublin on 13 November 2019 and focused on hearing perspectives of disability organisations, and I attended that myself as Minister of State. The second event was held on 26 November 2019 in Tullamore and was oriented towards people with disabilities and their families. The next step is the publication of the consultation report and the development of a refreshed set of actions for consideration by the steering group.
As we look forward to renewed strategy, it is important that we acknowledge the achievements that have been realised since the launch in 2017. These achievements include: the ratification of the UNCRPD, something which was an absolute priority for me and which I was delighted to work on and to help to get over the line; work to facilitate the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, including the codes of practice and the establishment of the decision support service, I will be returning to this later in the debate; publication of the Make Work Pay report, with 24 practical recommendations, many of which have already been implemented; introduction of new ballot papers for referendum to facilitate private voting; introduction of the AIM supports for children accessing the ECCE; the report of the task force on personalised budgets; the development of the three-year plan under the comprehensive employment strategy, which I will be talking about shortly; finalisation of the report on the review of career guidance in schools; and the preparations for the commencement of the Irish Sign Language legislation.
While acknowledging these achievements, we also know, and I know, there is more work to do. I accept that argument. My vision for what I want to have happen is quite simple. When the strategy concludes in 2021, my aim is for Ireland to be a better place for people with disabilities to live in, a place that does not tolerate discrimination or exclusion. It should be a place where people with disabilities are involved and consulted with on matters and decisions that affect their lives. It should be a country where people with disabilities can enjoy full equality, participate fully in our society and enjoy a quality of life on a par with the rest of the population. It should also be a country where the focus is not on what people cannot do, but on what they can do, in other words we focus on the person's ability rather than disability. This is an ambitious vision, but I am confident that the NDIS is capable of triggering real change focused on targeted and specific outcomes. I look forward to bringing the renewed strategy to Government in January for approval, but I stress also that the strategy success will depend on the shared engagement with all of the stakeholders in building a fairer society. I look forward to taking an active part with everyone and taking this work forward.
Before I conclude, I wanted to return to the area of employment for people with disabilities. While progress has been made, the rate of unemployment among people with disabilities still remains too high. According to the results of the census of 2016, there were 130,000 persons with disabilities at work, which represents 6.5% of all people at work, or 22.3% of the total disabled working population of 584,045 people. People with disabilities are still only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age, so this is a serious issue for me. That people with disabilities want to work is evidenced from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection 2015 survey of disability allowance recipients. It showed that of those people who are not currently working, 35% expressed an interest in working part time while 8% expressed an interest in working in full-time employment. The Government is committed, and I am committed, to addressing this issue through the implementation of actions under the comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities from 2015 to 2024. I have spoken in this House previously about the strategy, and that is a good opportunity to let the House know that in common with the NDIS, the CES is also going through a period of renewal. The second phase of the strategy was launched yesterday in the form of a new three-year action plan. The plan includes a range of actions to advance the six strategic priorities and provide the focus for the work on the implementation group for the next period in the lifetime of the strategy. The aim is to consolidate progress made in the last number of years and to start to deliver real results.
One of the areas that has been identified for particular focus is the next phase of the CES in strategic priority 6, "Engaging Employers". This is why one of the key initiatives in the new action plan is a planned multi-faceted awareness campaign to promote awareness among employers and other stakeholders of the opportunities represented by employees with disabilities. This programme will include capacity building for employers and positive action measures to support the recruitment and retention of people with disabilities in employment. I have to say some employers have shown great examples of good practice regarding this particular issue.
The key issue in relation to the disability inclusion strategy and the employment strategy is setting worthwhile targets and ensuring Departments and agencies work together to deliver on them. That is not about money or extra money, but of course money is important too. It is also changing mindsets of all of us, both those with a disability and without. The mindset has to change in the broader society. When one sees somebody with a disability, one sees beyond the wheelchair or the cane. One sees the person and all that he or she can bring to one's workforce. Equally, for those with a disability, do not label oneself or allow oneself to be labelled. A person's disability is but a part of him or her. It must never define him or her. The Government, through the HSE, is committed to protecting frontline services for people with disabilities with targeted improvement and identified priority areas. The national service plan in 2019 provides for a significant level of funding of €1.9 billion to deliver essential frontline services for people with disabilities.
These core services span a spectrum of essential interventions, ranging from the clinical therapeutic support to the rehabilitative and training and day services, homecare support, as well as respite and residential provision. All funded service providers, including non-clinical service delivery focused organisations, are required to deliver safe and effective services within a defined budget allocation. The HSE must also ensure that it prioritises available resources on the basis of meeting the health and social needs of all people with disabilities. Our current policy promotes a non-condition specific approach to disability service provision based on the needs of the individual rather than on the provision of services based on a specific disability diagnosis. A Programme for a Partnership Government commits this Government to improving services and increasing supports for people with disabilities. Significant resources have been invested by the health sector in services for people with disabilities over the past number of years. In terms of health spending, substantive expenditure has been agreed in recent budgets to support increased provision for people with disabilities and their families. I am pleased that we have been able both to build upon significant existing resources and to obtain additional funding for disability services in the budget 2020. We are in the middle of this process at the moment with the HSE service plan. With these additional moneys secured, the overall budget for disability and services in 2020 is in excess of €2 billion. That is right: €2 billion. The increased level of funding in 2020 will enable us to continue to provide residential support to over 8,600 people with disabilities at more than 1,240 locations.
Upon taking office, one of my priorities was to ensure that all young adults leaving school or rehabilitative training would have access to supports and services which meet their needs at one of the most critical transition points of their lives. Additional funding of €13 million will provide supports and day services to approximately 1,600 young people with disabilities who leave school and training programmes next year. I recognise the critical importance of respite for loved ones and families of those with a disability. I am pleased to confirm that an additional €5 million will be provided in 2020 to build on the capacity of our respite services so that we can respond to the changing needs of service users and their families. Specifically, this funding will provide intensive support packaged for children and young people in response to the changing needs of service users and their families. This initiative will include intensive in-home visiting support, planned overnight, specialist behavioural support and extended day weekend and day-based activities for families.
Sláintecare is centred around providing services and support at the lowest level of complexity. An additional €5 million in this budget is provided for the emergency protocol to support people with disabilities who have high support needs.
This includes funding for emergency placements and the provision of intensive home support and respite packages, which are intended to delay the need for residential care for vulnerable users. Finally, an additional €2 million will be provided in 2020 to support the implementation of the autism plan, which includes a range of measures to improve services for people with autism and their families.
I thank the Acting Chairman for facilitating the debate and look forward to the contributions of Senators.