Tuesday 27th September 2022, For NCBI, the introduction of short-term or one-off measures to ease the costs of living crisis on people who are blind or vision impaired while welcomed is a missed opportunity to invest in more strategic long-term initiatives that would have a longer lasting impact and create a more inclusive society.
June Tinsley, Head of Communications and Advocacy said “Budget 2023 clearly acknowledges the additional costs associated with living with a disability but instead of offering sustained financial support a one-off payment of €500 to people on Disability Allowance or Blind Pension was announced. This approach goes against the Cost of Disability Report (2021) that clearly showed those living with sight loss incur additional costs of between €9,805 – €10,565 per annum. While this payment will help make ends meet now, it doesn’t provide the much-needed long term support”.
Budget 2023 focused on increasing the usual social welfare payments that will benefit some e.g. rising social welfare rates by €12 per week but ignored those targeted measures that would help people who are blind or vision impaired live more independently such as removal of VAT on technology devices to make them more affordable or changing the Free Travel Scheme criteria to make more people eligible.
Also, the increase of €29m to strengthen disability services is far less than what is required according to the Government’s own Capacity Review (2021) report on ways to meet the increased need in disability services.