Foreword from the Minister
Preparation of Sectoral Plan, Consultation and Submissions
Policy – Meeting the needs of People with Disabilities
Strategic Service Development
Activation & Employment
Inter Departmental Co-operation
Compliance with Sections 25 to 28 Disability Act 2005
Disability Workplace Management
Organisational Disability Awareness & Capacity Building
Complaints & Redress Procedures
Review and Monitoring of Disability Sectoral Plan
Appendix 1 -- Position Audit
Appendix 2 -- Eligibility Conditions and Performance Indicators
1. Foreword from the Minister
The Minister for Social Affairs, Séamus Brennan
I welcome the publication of this Disability Sectoral Plan prepared by my Department in accordance with the provisions of the Disability Act, 2005 as part of the National Disability Strategy.
The National Disability Strategy represents a commitment by Government to drive forward a significant evolution in policy and provision for people with disabilities. The Disability Act, 2005, is one element of this Strategy and gives a statutory basis to the policy of mainstreaming public service delivery.
In addition, the Act provides for this innovative system of sectoral planning which will ensure that key mainstream services will have clear goals for delivering services to people with disabilities.
My Department's pivotal role is to provide income support for people with disabilities who may not be in a position to provide for themselves. Spending on these entitlements, to almost 240,000 recipients of disability or caring related social welfare schemes, in 2005 was over €2 billion.
However, in line with the current more enlightened and supportive policy direction, my Department will strive to deliver these supports in a way which reduces the risk of dependence and allows people to move from a position of welfare dependence to one where they can, to a far greater extent, meet their income needs from employment.
I am also conscious of the need to recognise, in addition to economic outcomes, the potential for advancement through a variety of activation measures, such as furthering education or developing life skills. In this context, this sectoral plan outlines a significant proposal for a new economic and social participation model based on a life cycle approach for people of working age, including people with disabilities.
We have a responsibility, in conjunction with other agencies, to give people the opportunities and encouragement that they need, whether it is to take up employment, education or training opportunities or to support them with their caring responsibilities. I am committed to ensuring that no individual's talent or contribution is overlooked, and to helping our customers to achieve their full potential, both in terms of participation in the labour market and in wider society.
This sectoral plan has been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the National Disability Authority and the principal organisations representing people with disabilities and service providers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all organisations who made submissions to this plan as well as the Department's Disability Consultative Forum who provide, on an ongoing basis, invaluable opinion and advice to me and my Department on disability related issues.
This plan has been shaped by our values of equality, opportunity and social justice and has at its very core the desire to enable people with disabilities to face the future with confidence. I look forward to its implementation over the next three years and to continuing the commitment to expand and deliver services and supports that best support, recognise and encourage people with disabilities and those who provide a caring role.
The Minister for Social Affairs, Séamus Brennan
2. Executive Summary
This sectoral plan is aimed at developing services that not only give people with disabilities financial security but encourage maximum participation in society and do so in partnership with other Government Departments and Agencies. In line with changing policy orientation, this Department will over the period of the Plan (2006/2009) seek to deliver support to people with disabilities which will reduce their risk of dependence. It will also allow them to meet their income needs to a far greater extent from employment as well as achieving other social outcomes, such as further education and developing life skills.
The plan arises from an intensive process of consultation with the Disability Sector, through the Disability Legislative Consultative Group, the National Disability Authority, as well as the Department's Disability Consultative Forum. The Department also received a number of both oral and written submissions.
The plan identifies the key policy issues to be addressed during the period of the Plan and include:
- Government policy on social welfare rates
- Preparation and Monitoring of the National Action Plan against Social Inclusion (NAPS/inclusion)
- Developing a data strategy to address information gaps on disability necessary for monitoring evaluation and overall policy development.
- Extending eligibility; identifying potential for rationalisation and integration and addressing benefit traps and disincentives within the structures of social welfare disability schemes.
- Improving income supports for Carers.
- The development of an advocacy service under the aegis of Comhairle.
A number of key strategic developments are being undertaken by the Department which include, the transfer of income maintenance payments from the Health Services Executive, Service Delivery Modernisation involving change in technology and organisational systems, improvements in Customer Service commitments and a review of the Medical Assessment system. The ultimate objective of these developments is to provide transformational change to income support and other related disability services administered by the Departmeny.
The Department will continue to develop a range of employment and other supports available to people with disabilities and will actively engage with other relevant Government Departments and Agencies. During the period 2007-13, the Department is committed to the development of a systematic programme of engagement for all people of working age, and specifically including people with disabilities. This will be in keeping with the life cycle approach proposed in the NESC report on a 'Developmental Welfare State’.
Effective cross-departmental co-operation is critical for the achievement of many of the goals identified in the Sectoral Plan. The plan identifies the key actions where the Department in conjunction with other agencies will co-operatively develop service provision for people with disabilities. Specific protocols have been agreed with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Health and Children including actions and timeframes to achieve key objectives.
The Disability Act contains a number of specific provisions relating to accessibility of services for people with disabilities, including accessibility to Departmental Offices; accessibility of services; accessibility of goods and services supplied and accessibility of information services. The Plan details a comprehensive set of actions to ensure accessibility to services.
The Department recognises that raising disability awareness and capacity building of expertise within the organisation is fundamental to the successful implementation of this Sectoral Plan. A series of activities and initiatives including the Department's proposals on the Employment of and Human Resource programme for staff with disabilities are set out in this Plan. Additionally, proposed actions on organisational disability awareness and development programmes are contained within the Plan.
A central focus of the approach undertaken by DSFA has been to adopt an organisation-wide view, one also that included agencies under the aegis of the Department. In particular, the role of Comhairle with regard to information and advocacy services for people with disabilities.
The Disability Act 2005 has made provision for a complaints and redress procedure. Accordingly, the Department is making specific provision for a system of complaint and redress as required under sections 26 and 39 of the Disability Act 2005 (i.e. the appointment of Access and Inquiry Offices).
In conclusion, a framework has been put in place to facilitate internal, external and cross departmental review and monitoring of the Plan and its implementation.