March 12, 2024
Government must listen to disabled people and bin the Green Paper – Pauline Tully TD and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers, Pauline Tully TD, and spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, have said that the government must listen to disabled people and bin the Green Paper on disability payment reforms.

Speaking at today’s protest in Dublin which called for the scrapping of the Green Paper, Deputy Tully added that the consultation process demonstrated the government’s lack of respect for people with disabilities.

Teachta Tully said:

“The Green Paper needs to be binned. The proposals the Government have brought forward have caused huge concern that they will follow the Tory model in Britain where people are forced into work that is unsuitable and people with disabilities face sanction.

“The consultation process was poor throughout, and demonstrated once again a lack of respect for people with disabilities.

“While the current system of disability payments is not fit for purpose and reform is badly needed, the proposals contained within the Green Paper are not the answer, they would further extend the existing problems.

“Low levels of employment and the very high extra cost of disability compound the need for urgent system-change to ensure people don’t fall further below the poverty line.

“But the current Green Paper proposals wrongfully conflate the cost of disability with employment and capacity to work.

“In many cases where disabled people are in employment it is often, due to educational barriers, in low paid jobs with little prospect of progression. Therefore, their ability to lift themselves out of poverty through employment alone is limited by the current system.

“The paper also assumes that the more severe the disability, the higher the cost to the individual, but the cost of disability can vary on many factors, not just severity of disability.

“Creating a link between the cost of disability and employment suggests that disabled people are not trying hard enough to find employment and plays into fears that these proposals are similar to Tory welfare reforms that are having a huge negative effect on disabled people in Britain.

“The message from disabled people is loud and clear. They want the government to listen to them, and they want the Green Paper binned.”

Teachta Ó Laoghaire added:

“The proposal for a tiering model is also extremely worrying. The Green Paper proposes that people assessed as ‘Tier 3’ would be ‘required’ to engage with Intreo and take up reasonable offers of employment and training.

“While the government has talked about the fact that no one will be sanctioned or face cuts to payments, we would be very concerned that over time the structure could lead to that.

“Most disabled people want to access employment. It is much more important than just income. Employment for people with disabilities opens social possibilities and yields a feeling of self-worth.

“However, disabled individuals are going to have very different needs and requirements to work. The green paper does nothing to remove the barriers that exist.

“Employer attitudes need to be changed and the current barriers preventing disabled people from gaining and retaining meaningful work need to be addressed before we contemplate any other reforms.

“While most of what we see in the Green Paper needs to be discarded, there are a few proposals which could be positive, and more work should be done on these. We welcome the fact that higher rates of disability payments are being considered.

“A single system properly designed could make sense, however, a new system of assessment for accessing this single system needs to be based on a social/rights model of disability that is in line with the UNCRPD.

“Reform of the current system is badly needed, but we need to get this right. This green paper does not do that. The government needs to scrap it, listen to disabled people, and start again with a new proposal.”

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