Under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, an inter-departmental working group, chaired by the Department of Health and Children, was established to examine the feasibility of introducing a cost of disability payment — PPF3.10.11.
The National Disability Authority, on behalf of the working group, and in line with its own remit, commissioned research into the feasibility of a cost of disability payment in Ireland. The purpose of this research was to advise regarding: the additional costs incurred by people with disabilities, owing specifically to the direct or indirect costs of the disability; and the appropriate mechanisms, or instruments by which to address identified additional costs.
The resultant report, Disability and the Cost of Living, was published by the NDA early in 2004. The working group in March of this year produced a position paper, which gave an overview of the work it has undertaken to date. It outlined the group's current thinking and also gave an indication of the next steps the working group intends to take.
The working group recommends that urgent steps be taken to improve the quality of data relating to disability in Ireland. This might include, for example, adjustment of existing data gathering exercises undertaken by the Central Statistics Office or other relevant bodies to include questions on the numbers per household with disabilities, the nature of the disability, severity of impairment, etc. The working group considers that it is vital that comprehensive data is available on which to base consideration of the feasibility of a cost of disability payment. Given its advisory and research remit, the working group considers that the National Disability Authority has an important role to play in addressing these data gaps along with other relevant bodies.
The working group acknowledges that a number of Departments and agencies have previously carried out reviews of the various supports-payments for people with disabilities. However, these reviews have tended to focus solely on the operation of individual schemes, without taking a broader overview of how these measures fit into the overall system of disability supports. The working group proposes to examine the scope for rationalising and streamlining the various disability supports measures, with a particular focus on mitigating the additional costs of disability for a greater number of people with disabilities, particularly in the case of those who wish to move from a position of total welfare dependence to one of greater economic independence. The working group is now proceeding to follow up on these various matters.