For Oral Answer on : 23/05/2023
Question Number(s): 115 Question Reference(s): 24637/23
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the way her Department is supporting people with disabilities to gain employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Department of Social Protection, through its nationwide network of Intreo centres, provides a case managed employment service for jobseekers with disabilities. The person works with a case officer with a view to agreeing a suitable personal progression plan in order to access the full range of employment supports available.
The Department recognises the additional challenges that some people with disabilities may experience in securing and maintaining employment, and contracts specialist employment services, called EmployAbility, to help address this. A jobseeker with a disability who is working with their Intreo case officer may be referred to these service providers if it is agreed that they would benefit from the type of services and support provided. Under EmployAbility the person works with a job coach who provides both pre-employment and in-employment support and assistance. Providers also deliver a recruitment and job matching service for employers.
Both Disability Allowance and Blind Pension are structured to support recipients to avail of work opportunities, be that self-employment or insurable employment. When an individual commences employment, they can avail of an income disregard of €165 per week. In addition, a 50% taper on earnings between €165 and €375 is also applied. A person can earn up to €495 and still retain some of their payment.
The Reasonable Accommodation Fund grants support jobseekers and existing employees with disabilities, as well as private sector employers seeking to hire or retain a person with a disability. These grants are being reviewed, as per commitments under the Comprehensive Employment Strategy. The review aims to improve the effectiveness of the grants, identify gaps in provision and simplify the application and payment processes.
In Budget 2023 an additional €1 million in funding was announced to expand the provisions made under the Reasonable Accommodation Fund grant and to support the recommendations from the forthcoming review.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.