Publication - Disability Sectoral Plan July 2006 - 6. Inter-Departmental Co-operation


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6. Inter-Departmental Co-operation

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6.1 Introduction.

Section 33(2) of the Disability Act, 2005, requires that in the preparation of its Sectoral Plan, appropriate co-operation between the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and the Ministers for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and for Health and Children in relation to the development and co-ordination of services provided for persons with disabilities is undertaken.

Effective cross-departmental co-operation is critical for the achievement of many of the goals identified both in the Department's own Statement of Strategy and within this Sectoral Plan. In some cases, this Department will have the central co-ordinating role (e.g. the National Anti-Poverty Strategy) while in other cases the Department does not have the lead role but must necessarily co-operate with other Departments to ensure that overall cross-Departmental policies (such as the National Disability Strategy) are delivered.

The Department, in developing its Sectoral Plan, has had particular regard to the commitments in the Programme for Government and recent Partnership Agreement ' Towards 2016' to ensure that all state agencies prioritise integrated work in areas of significant disadvantage and that public activity supports the development of social capital, particularly on a local community level.

6.2 Existing Inter Agency Co-operation

Within the existing service delivery agreement, the Memorandum of Understanding and Framework for Co-operation between the Social Welfare Services and FÁS, acknowledges the close liaison and co-operation at central, regional and local levels. The Memorandum commits to working closely together to harmonise our endeavours and to increase the effectiveness of our services. Within this agreement, there is a specific protocol relating to persons with disabilities, reflecting the importance of information flows and the role of the social welfare system in providing incentives for people to access vocational training and employment services provided through FÁS. The Memorandum for Understanding is currently being updated and will reflect the actions agreed in cross-departmental consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and with FÁS.

Another recent example of inter-agency co-operation is the Midlands Pilot Project, conducted during 2005, which involved this Department working with FÁS and the Health Services Executive in undertaking preliminary research into the employment and training support needs of those in receipt of Disability Allowance aged between 16 and 25 years in four Midland counties. This research involved a series of one-to-one consultations with this target group of recipients of Disability Allowance, involving all three organisations. The evaluation process of this pilot project is almost completed. It will inform the development of policy for future multi-agency co-operation on activation measures and follow-up services as envisaged in the proposals for a Social and Economic Participation programme outlined in section 5.6 of the Plan.

6.3. Inter-Departmental Co-operation

Having regard to linkages between the education and income support systems a series of initiatives between this Department and the Department of Education and Science have been agreed. An inter-departmental steering committee of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, Department of Education and Science, Department of Finance and FÁS has been set up to progress the implementation of the Back To Education Review. Section 5.4. of this plan comprehensively outlines the joint programme with the Department of Education and Science for the implementation of this Review.

A further important development, in the context of inter-agency co-operation results from the Government decision on the transfer of income maintenance functions from the Department of Health and Children/Health Services Executive to this Department (which includes a number of disability-related schemes). An inter-departmental working group has now been established to progress the implementation of this transfer. The Plan also refers to the review of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (and rent supplements) and actions arising from this and the Rental Accommodation scheme which will be progressed with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Ensuring that income supports and associated benefits do not create financial barriers to people with disabilities seeking, accepting or improving employment is a key objective of the social welfare system and the co-ordination of the removal of disincentives across schemes also requires inter-departmental action. This would include, for example, addressing the issue of income limits for medical card eligibility and secondary payments currently administered by the Health Services Executive (e.g. mobility allowance) or ensuring that employment incentive measures in social welfare schemes have a positive participation rate in training and employment programmes provided by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and FÁS.

As part of the preparation for the publication of this Sectoral Plan, this Department has met with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Health and Children to discuss the issues of mutual and strategic concern in relation to service provision for people with disabilities. In the interest of best reflecting the commitment to co-operation, a protocol has been agreed with each Department as outlined below. These protocols identify relevant key objectives drawn from this Department's Statement of Strategy in relation to people with disabilities and actions which require cross-departmental co-operation. The actions agreed in these protocols will be similarly incorporated into the sectoral plans of the Department of Health and Children and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

A monitoring mechanism has been agreed with each of the other Departments for these protocols by means of regular bilateral meetings to assess progress which will, in turn, feed into the internal and external monitoring processes for the overall Sectoral Plan.

6.4. Protocol for Inter-Departmental Co-operation Department of Health and Children

Part 3 of the Disability Act, 2005, provides for the preparation of sectoral plans by six Departments, including the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and the Minister for Health and Children, and for the appropriate co-operation between the Ministers in relation to the development and co-ordination of services for persons with disabilities.

The mission of the Department of Social and Family Affairs is ' to promote a caring society through ensuring access to income support and related services, enabling active participation, promoting social inclusion and supporting families'.

The main functions of the Department which include the provision of services to people with disabilities are:

  • To formulate appropriate social protection policies;
  • To administer and manage the delivery of statutory and non-statutory social and family schemes and services; and
  • To work with other Departments and agencies in the delivery of Government priorities.

The mission of the Department of Health and Children is ' to help enhance the health and well-being of all' by:

  • Supporting the delivery of high quality, equitable and efficient health and personal social services;
  • Leading change in the health system;
  • Putting health at the centre of public policy; and
  • Promoting a "whole of Government approach" to health and social gain.

The management and delivery of health and personal social services is the responsibility of the Health Services Executive under the Health Act 2004.

This protocol recognises the commitment of both Departments to work closely together to harmonise their endeavours and to increase the effectiveness of the delivery of services for people with disabilities.

Outlined in table 6.4 are the key objectives, actions and timeframes which the two Departments will work together to achieve to progress the commitments within their sectoral plans.

Table 6.4.

Objective

Actions

Timeframes

To develop income and related supports for people with disabilities in order to ensure that they have adequate, secure and sustainable income

Implement the Government decision on the transfer of income maintenance functions of the Department of Health and Children/Health Services Executive to the Department of Social and Family Affairs

Commenced May 2006 with establishment of an inter-departmental working group. Initial report to Government by October 2006. Transfer process 2006-09

Extension of eligibility for payment of full Disability Allowance to all those in residential care

Completed by end 2007

To ensure that income supports and associated benefits do not create financial barriers to people with disabilities participating in the labour force or availing of training or educational opportunities

Co-ordination of the removal of disincentives across schemes.

Review of eligibility criteria for assessment of medical card.

Retention of HSE allowances for persons availing of DA earningsdisregard.

Consideration of issues around the cost of disability

Ongoing.

To commence 2006

Completed by quarter 3 2006

Following the development of a needs assessment system provided for under Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 with development of needs assessment

To ensure that supports to Carers are efficient and effective and are adaptable to their needs in a changing care environment 

Implementation of the recommendations of the working group on long-term care

Ongoing

6.5. Protocol for Inter-Departmental Co-operation, Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Part 3 of the Disability Act, 2005, provides for the preparation of sectoral plans by six Departments, including the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and for the appropriate co-operation between the Ministers in relation to the development and co-ordination of services for persons with disabilities.

The mission of the Department of Social and Family Affairs is to promote a caring society through ensuring access to income support and related services, enabling active participation, promoting social inclusion and supporting families.

The main functions of the Department which include the provision of services to people with disabilities are:

  • To formulate appropriate social protection policies;
  • To administer and manage the delivery of statutory and non-statutory social and family schemes and services; and
  • To work with other Departments and agencies in the delivery of Government priorities.

The mission of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is to work for Government and the people to increase quality employment and national competitiveness.

The main functions of the Department in developing policy for people with disabilities are:

  • to develop the skills of people with disabilities to enable them to access employment and to achieve vocational progression;
  • to stimulate awareness amongst employers of the contribution which people with disabilities can make to their businesses and encouraging them to recruit more people with disabilities;
  • to provide specific employment supports for people with disabilities and for employers.

This protocol recognises the commitment of both Departments to work closely together to harmonise their endeavours and to increase the effectiveness of the delivery of services for people with disabilities.

In the context of progressing the commitments within the Sectoral Plans, table 6.5 below outlines the objectives, actions and timeframes which the two Departments will work together to achieve.

Table 6.5

Objectives

Actions

Timeframes

Effectively engage with persons of working age, particularly marginalised groups and provide services directly and in co-operation with other agencies to encourage and support these people in taking up relevant work, training and educational or development opportunities.

In the context of the Memorandum of Understanding and Framework for Co-operation between Social Welfare Services and FÁS, develop the level of engagement between the organisations at local, regional and national level in a way that will best facilitate access to work and progression in employment for people with disabilities;

Complete by end 2006

Informed by the results of the Midlands Pilot Programme for Disability Allowance recipients aged 16-25; improve the level of multi-agency co-operation in implementing employment on activation measures and follow-up interventions.

Evaluation of Midlands Pilot Project completed Sep 2006

Develop and implement co-operation on activation strategy 2006-09

To ensure that income supports and associated benefits do not create financial barriers to people with disabilities participating in the labour force or availing of training or educational opportunities

Develop the potential of the DSFA medical review and assessment process to assess occupational capacity and activation potential and establish a referral process to FÁS as a service provider

Ongoing.

To commence 2006

Completed by quarter 3 2006

Following the development of a needs assessment system provided for under Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 with development of needs assessment

To ensure that supports to Carers are efficient and effective and are adaptable to their needs in a changing care environment 

Implementation of the recommendations of the working group on long-term care

Develop in line with DSFA model of Economic and Social Participation 2007-13

Ensure that services which support people with disabilities do so in a manner which facilitate full participation in society and which meets the mainstreaming agenda

Examine the scope of the social welfare system to play a more active role in employment retention strategies

Develop within the revised memorandum for Understanding and Framework for Co-operation with FÁS

To ensure that supports to Carers are efficient and effective and are adaptable to their needs in a changing care environment 

Implementation of the recommendations of the working group on long-term care

Develop in line with DSFA model of Economic and Social Participation 2007-13

 

Develop a comprehensive information strategy, using DSFA contact and information points to (a) increase customer awareness of the availability of FÁS employment and training opportunities (b) increase employer awareness of grants and subsidies for the employment of people with disabilities

2006/2009

Ensure income supports and associated benefits do not create financial barriers to people with disabilities seeking accepting or improving employment

Examine the effects of employment incentive measures in social welfare schemes on the participation rates in training and employment programmes and further develop policies as required to increase both participation and progression rates

2006/2009

Ensure that payments and supports for Carers are efficient and effective and are adaptable to their needs in a changing care environment

Evaluate effects of change to withdrawal rate of Disability Allowance to participation rates and to the take-up of the Wage Subsidy scheme. Amend policy as required arising from this analysis to increase employment incentive measures

2006/2009

Ensure that payments and supports for Carers are efficient and effective and are adaptable to their needs in a changing care environment

Develop training initiatives, as priorities permit, which facilitate carers in carrying out their caring role and in re-entering the labour market when these responsibilities have ceased.

Develop and monitor the Carer’s Benefit and Carer’s Leave schemes

2006/2009


Last modified:08/09/2009
 

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