The Department's Disability 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.