Responding to speculation that Social Protection Minister Joan Burton is considering abolishing disability allowance for under-18s Sinn Féin spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD accused the minister of playing politics with people’s fears.
“Joan Burton is playing politics with the economy and with people’s fears. A cut to the allowance for young disabled people would be an attack on one of the most vulnerable sections of our society and should not even be considered. The fact that this kite has even been flown is a disgrace.
“We are hearing snippets of leaked reports recommending social welfare cuts via the media, but when the minister has been pressed she has been unwilling to share details. Last week it was child benefit cuts, this week it’s disability cuts.
“The government has no problem sending people out to argue against the introduction of a tax on the wealthiest people in this state but when it comes to targeting vulnerable people it seems they are happy to fly kites and gauge the response. This shows where the government’s priorities lie.
“The impact of the reported recommendation to raise the age of disability allowance from 16 to 18 is that the households of a young person with a disability could be down €6,062 a year. This is because the Domicialliary Care Allowance payment is significantly lower than Disability Allowance.
“Just like typical teenagers, taking care of teenagers with disabilities can be expensive and that’s before the additional costs to which their disabilities give rise are even considered.
“The higher payment is vital to promote the social inclusion of young people with disabilities. Oftentimes parents have to fork out for double to ensure their teenager with a disability has some form of social life. Many young people with disabilities have to be accompanied to events, the cinema or to other social gatherings so their parents will pay for two tickets to ensure their teen can attend.
“For those young people with more severe disabilities the costs for the household often rise as the therapy services that were available to them in younger childhood become more sparse as they get older.
“If the minister’s bona fide reason for proposing this cut is because she is concerned about making such a large social welfare payment directly to young people than the solution is to make the disability allowance payment to the parent or guardian until they reach 18 or to introduce a new higher rate of Domicialliary Care Allowance equivalent to the value of Disability Allowance for 16 and 17 year olds.”