Latest research shows it costs 18% more per week for people with sight loss to meet their minimum living requirements
- It costs 18% or €44.54 per week, more for a person with vision impairment to have a Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL).
- Collaborative study between the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ).
- Research examined the MESL for a single adult with vision impairment.
- The main additional costs relate to health, communications and household services.
It costs €44.54 more per week for a person with impaired vision to have a minimum standard of living, a standard below which no one should be expected to live . That is a gap of 18% between the costs of a person with full sight and someone with impaired vision. This is according to new research published collaboratively by the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ) today, which looked at the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) for a single adult with vision impairment. The largest additional costs relate to health, communication and household services.
It costs €241.22 per week for someone with full vision to meet their minimum needs, while it costs a person with impaired vision an additional €44.54. This is to afford the additional goods and services necessary to meet their physical, psychological and social needs at a minimum acceptable level, bringing the weekly cost up to €285.76. The largest additional weekly cost for a single adult with vision impairment is in the health budget, which costs €11.54 extra per week and includes glasses, eye drops and sunglasses, to counteract glare, which is a problem for many people with low vision. This is followed by communication at €9.33 per week. Having access to a landline and broadband is a need rather than a luxury. Household services come in at an additional €7.69 per week.
Elaine Howley, Director of Policy and Advocacy with NCBI:
“Vision Impairment is often a hidden disability. Those of us who live with it incur extra costs every week so that we can just live ordinary lives. Some of these costs are directly related to low vision, such as magnifiers, expensive lenses/sunglasses and eye drops. Other costs include taxis, where public transport is insufficient or non-existent, mobile phones and assistance with household tasks and personal care. While some of these costs are in themselves relatively low, the cumulative effect is that there are many people with impaired vision living in poverty in Ireland and cannot fully participate in society or access the items and services they need. This research offers us an opportunity to explore, for the first time ever, how the needs of people with sight loss can be met so that they are not living below the MESL – the standard below which nobody should be expected to live.”
This study builds on the existing body of research undertaken by the VPSJ into the goods and services expenditure and adequate income required by households and individuals in order to have a Minimum Essential Standard of Living. The methodology involves facilitating a series of focus group sessions with members of the public who represent the household type under consideration. This work is detailed, time consuming and rigorous.
Dr Bernadette Mac Mahon, Director of the VPSJ’s Research Centre:
“In this study we were looking at items that have not previously featured in the MESL budgets, such as household services like domestic cleaning and personal care services. The areas highlighted, including health, communication and household services make it possible for people with vision impairments to have a Minimum Essential Standard of Living. These costs do not seem to be taken into consideration by decision makers when determining entitlement rates.”
Senator Martin Conway, who himself has vision impairment, commented:
“This is the first time that the additional needs and costs associated with vision impairment have been examined in this way so this research is most welcome and will provide hard data to improve the lives of people with sight loss.”
Notes to Editors
- NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) is Ireland’s national charity working for the rising number of people affected by sight loss. Our practical and emotional advice and supports help 8,000 people and their families face their futures with confidence every year.
- Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ) has conducted Consensual Budget Standards research since 1996 to develop budgets for a range of household types in the general population and its existing data covers 90% of households.
- The core costs of the MESL are the sum of 14 household budget areas: food, clothing, personal care, household goods, household services, communications, social inclusion and participation, education, transport, household energy, personal costs, insurance, saving and contingencies.
- Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice and NCBI (2017) The Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL) for a single adult with a vision impairment.
- CSO (2017) Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) figures for 2015).