Publication - Disability Sectoral Plan July 2006 - 2. Preparation of Sectoral Plan, Consultation and Submissions Received

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2. Preparation of Sectoral Plan, Consultation and Submissions Received


2.1. Introduction

In addressing and designing its Sectoral Plan a Programme Management approach was adopted by the Department to ensure compliance with the Disability Act and the timely preparation of its Sectoral Plan. A formal Project board was established consisting of Principal Officers and Business Managers with functional responsibility for the relevant Departmental areas. The Board met on 7 occasions and reported to the Top Management Team as well as the Department's Policy Committee chaired by the Secretary General.

Prior to the enactment of the Disability Act a Senior Officials Group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach was convened. This group oversaw the preparation of the National Disability Strategy and reported to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion (CCSI). This group was reconvened to monitor progress on implementation of the strategy, the Disability Act, Comhairle Amendment Bill and Sectoral Plans. The Department was represented on the group.

The 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. Similarly, the Department's interpretation of its commitments, obligations required under the Disability Act and in respect to this plan's implementation, is not one narrowly confined to disability income support. The intent is that, the plan is representative of all citizens with disabilities irrespective of age, income support, or employment status and who avail of services from the Department.

2.2. Key Actions Undertaken:

The key activities undertaken as part of this project to ensure compliance with the Act as well as timely preparation of the Sectoral Plan included:

  • On the advice of the National Disability Authority a strategic framework for the preparation of this sectoral plan was employed.
  • Key stakeholders both internally and externally were identified and responsibility assigned for the delivery of the necessary internal actions or inputs.
  • The activities required for the implementation of this Plan have been located and articulated within the Business Planning Process of the Department. The objectives, actions and performance indicators or outcome measures are aligned to Departmental Strategic and Business Planning processes.
  • The Plan was broadened to also incorporate those agencies which come under the Department's aegis (i.e. Comhairle, Combat Poverty, Pensions Boards/Ombudsman, and Family Services Agency).
  • The existing policy framework was reviewed and account taken of submissions received from Disability representative organisations and service providers.
  • A review of the procurement procedures was conducted. This review incorporated the specific requirements of the Disability Act to ensure that goods and services procured are accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • A comprehensive position audit of the Department's existing service delivery was completed see Appendix 1. This audit identified any deficits that existed in service delivery. This audit was informed by the Code of Practice on Accessibility and as well as looking at organisations who have track records of best practice (i.e. The Royal Mail who are regarded a organisational leaders in structured disability work management and disability service strategy).
  • Cross Departmental issues were identified for progression with relevant Departments (i.e. Departments of Health and Children and Enterprise Trade and Employment). Protocols for the co-ordinated and integrated progression of this agenda have been agreed and monitoring mechanisms put in place.
  • A review of the existing information services and formats, to assess whether they are adequately accessible to all persons with disabilities and in appropriate mediums, has been completed.
  • An analysis of the extent to which buildings, used by the Department's customers and staff are fully accessible, has been completed. Where such deficits exist these will be addressed in a Programme of works to be undertaken in conjunction with the Office of Public Works (OPW).
  • An analysis of staff and organisational disability awareness has been completed. Typically this includes the extent to which disability awareness programmes, training and development have occurred within the organisation.
  • A review of the organisation's compliance with the target for the employment of people with disabilities has been finalised. Additionally, this review also included the HR measures and proposals undertaken in the context of organisational Disability Management.
2.3. Consultative Process:

Consultation with customers and their representative organisations is an integral part of the Department's business. The Department has over a number of years developed and used a variety of consultation methods in order to obtain as wide a view possible. These include day to day contacts, customer surveys, customer panels and feedback from the Department's Comment and Complaints system and through its Disability Consultative Forum.

Under the provisions of the Disability Act, provision was made for all relevant Departments to consult with people with disabilities and/or their representatives in advance of the publication of its Sectoral Plan. The primary method of consultation employed by the Department was with the Disability Legislative Consultative Group (DLCG) which was established by the National Disability Authority at the request of Government to provide a platform to consult with the disability sector on disability legislation. The DLCG chaired by the NDA, comprises umbrella bodies representing people with disabilities, their families, carers and disability service providers. The membership of the DLCG is detailed in table 2.2. The Taoiseach committed that the relevant Ministers would consult with the DLCG in relation to the preparation of the Sectoral Plans.

Additionally, the Department has consulted on its Sectoral Plan through its existing Disability Consultative Forum. This Forum has operated since 1996 and is comprised of the principal organisations representing people with disabilities and service providers. It meets on a quarterly basis and the organisations included are: (National Disability Authority, Comhairle, Inclusion Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, Mental Health Association, People with Disabilities in Ireland, Irish Wheelchair Association, Federation of Voluntary Bodies, Eastern Regional Area Health Authority)

The Forum acts as a channel to communicate the views of such organisations to the Department and also provides a mechanism to review and make recommendations which can influence policy making. In addition, the Forum has reviewed the operation and administration of income and employment support services delivered by the Department. More generally it has acted in an advisory capacity to the Department on Disability related issues. As a result of this ongoing consultation initiative and collaborative approach, the Department has gained a far better appreciation of the issues faced by people with disabilities and their representative organisations.

The series of consultations which took place included:

  • Senior Departmental Officials met with the Disability Legislative Consultation Group on four occasions regarding their comments and observations on the Department's Plan.
  • Bilateral meetings between National Disability Authority and DSFA on 9 separate occasions regarding compliance with the Act and the preparation of this Sectoral plan.
  • At the invitation of the NDA, the Department gave a presentation to Disability Representative Organisations on its approach in preparing its Sectoral Plan and meeting its obligations and the provisions of the Disability Act.
2.4. Submissions Received from the Disability Sector

In the conduct of its business, the Department receives submissions on a regular basis from the Disability Sector which inform the policy-making process. These include submissions made in the context of budgetary proposals (and presented to the Minister at the annual pre-budget forum) as well as submissions sought and received in other areas of work, for example, as part of the Government's Expenditure Review Initiative. In this regard, a review was completed of the Department's Illness and Disability Payment schemes, a key feature of which was the consultation process with relevant representative organisations.

Having regard to the consultations undertaken, a series of both oral and written submissions were received from a variety of representative groups and service providers including:

  • The National Disability Authority (NDA)
  • The Department of Social and Family Affairs Disability Consultative Forum
  • The 'Not for Profit Business Association'
  • Disability Federation of Ireland
  • Inclusion Ireland
  • Irish Association of Supported Employment

These submissions are published in their entirety on the Department's website with the Department's Sectoral Plan. A summary of the key issues which representative organisations considered the Plan should incorporate is detailed in table 2.1.

All submissions have been critically examined by the Department in the context of its preparation of the Sectoral Plan. In response to and when addressing the issues highlighted by the Disability Sector, the key actions and commitments proposed by the Department are articulated within this plan. These include policy development, strategic service development, activation and employment as well as compliance with the provisions of the Disability Act 2005.

Table 2.1

Issue(s) Submitted


Broaden the Sectoral Plan to include agencies under the Departments remit

NDA,NFPA,DFI Consultative Forum

Ensure that disability is integrated into the Statement of Strategy and business planning of the Department and all public bodies under its aegis


Ensure social welfare payments move in line with other incomes in society. Set targets for reducing poverty among people with disabilities

NDA, DFI, Consultative Forum, DLCG

Tackle and remove benefits traps within income and related supports. Develop proactive strategies to support pathways into work for those who can, and to promote continuation in employment of workers who acquire a disability


Review the title "Rules of Behaviour" and their content, to better reflect the autonomy of PWD. Set claim processing time targets for no-quibble re-entry to disability payments (and secondary benefits) after an unsuccessful return to work, and for processing exemptions from the Rules of Behaviour to take up training or work.


Specifically detail how compliance with the sections 25-28 of Disability Act 2005, on accessible services, and Part 5, on targets for employing people with disabilities in the public service will be realised.


Eliminating inconsistencies and inequities

  • Long stay charges – rent supplements
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Disability Allowance
  • People in institutional/residential care
  • National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Consultation
  • Means testing

Inclusion Ireland, NFPBA



Issue(s) Submitted



  • The critical role of Comhairle in the enabling process
  • Promotion of Comhairle
  • Promotion of accessible information through Comhairle
  • Review of Assistive Technology information provision by Comhairle
  • Advocacy
  • Sign Language Interpretation


Consideration of and introduction of a Cost of Disability payment


Cross Departmental Issues, Joint Commissioning of services

NDA, DFI, Consultative Forum, DLCG

Role for the family support division of the Department to address issues relating to disability in its supports for family life.


Disability Awareness and Disability Proofing


Table 2.2


Full Title of Organisation


National Disability Authority


Not For Profit Business Association (Central Remedial Clinic, Cheshire Ireland, Enable Ireland, Gandon Enterprises, Irish Wheelchair Association, National Association for Deaf People, National Council for the Blind of Ireland, National Learning Network, RehabCare)

Consultative Forum

Department of Social & Family Affairs Disability Consultative Forum (NDA, Comhairle, DFI, Federation of Voluntary Bodies, Inclusion Ireland, Eastern Area Regional Health Authority, People with Disabilities in Ireland, Forum for People with Disabilities.


Disability Federation of Ireland


Disability Legislative Consultative Group Disability Federation of Ireland, Mental Health Ireland, National federation of Voluntary Bodies, Not for profit Business Association, People with Disabilities in Ireland


Inclusion Ireland


Irish Association of Supported Employment


Last modified:25/09/2008

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