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Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Enhanced support for people with disabilities announced

The Minister for Social Protection has announced two new initiatives aimed at enhancing the support offered to people with disabilities who are planning to take up employment or development opportunities.

THE MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton has announced two new initiatives aimed at enhancing support offered to people with disabilities who are planning to take up employment or development opportunities.

The Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme will allow people with disabilities to avail of employment opportunities without restrictions on their employment income while continuing to receive their income support payment form the Department of Social Protection.

The payment option will be open to people with disabilities who are in receipt of an Invalidity Pension or who are in receipt of Illness Benefit for more than six months. Those eligible to take part will receive an ongoing income support payment based on an assessment of their capacity to work, the Minister said in a statement today.

Participation in the scheme, which aims to “address a limitation of the current welfare system”, is voluntary and applications will be taken from today. It is hoped that it will address existing shortcomings by “recognising and responding to the reality that some people with disabilities will have a capacity to engage in employment while continuing to need some income support from the State”.

A second initiative, the EmployAbility Service, will offer a range of supports, including workplace adaptation grants, wage subsidies and on-site job coaches and mentors to both workers and to employers.

The service aims to educate and reassure employers about misconceptions about the ‘risk’ of employing a person with a disability.

“People with a disability face particular challenges being accepted for and taking up work opportunities,” Minister Burton said when announcing the scheme. “One of the benefits from the merger of FÁS with the Department of Social Protection is that we will now be able to integrate our activities to develop new and improve existing measures and initiatives and to help people build on their abilities to overcome the barriers to gaining and maintaining employment”.

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