Disabled people ‘more likely to be poor’

PEOPLE with disabilities are twice as likely as the rest of the population to be poor, a study shows.

Disabled people are less likely to have a job and more likely to live in a home where no one works.

The ERSI study on Disability and Social Inclusion in Ireland, launched in Dublin yesterday by the Minister of Social and Family Affairs, Séamus Brennan, found that 38% of people with disabilities living in poverty get by without basic items.

It also found that people with disabilities were four times less likely to have a qualification past primary level and were half as likely to have reached third level.

Equality Authority chief executive Niall Crowley said anti-poverty measures should be reviewed to benefit people with disabilities in light of the findings.

The degree to which people with disabilities are found to be hampered in their daily lives by their impairment was significant, reflecting the ongoing disabling nature of our society and institutions.

“The physical environments, communication strategies, workplace design and work organisation, the design of service provision and public attitudes continue to disable people with disabilities in all sectors and in all areas of life,” he said.

The study by Brenda Gannon and Brian Nolan, carried out for both the Equality Authority and the National Disability Authority (NDA), found that people with disabilities or chronic illnesses also experience more restricted social lives because they cannot get out or join groups.

NDA director Claire O’Connor said the research established that people with disabilities were still excluded across many areas of life.

A study last year by the same authors found that people with disabilities are much less likely to have a job and also worked fewer hours on average when they did. Ms O’Connor called for public policies to strive to include people with disabilities in mainstream Irish life and address the barriers to full social participation.

“The impact of a national disability strategy must be judged on whether the next time we measure these aspects of social inclusion we are able to report tangible improvements,” she said.

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