National Sight Loss Agency Welcomes Income Disregard Increase on Blind Pension
Thursday 3rd June 2021 NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) welcomes the €20 increase related to the income disregard in social welfare payments affecting blind or vision impaired people that comes into effect tomorrow June 4th 2021.
As part of Budget 2021, Government announced the income disregard applicable to Disability Allowance and Blind Pension would increase by €20 weekly, from €120 to €140. Any person in receipt of Blind Pension or Disability Allowance can now earn up to €140 per week without it being taken into account when the Department assess their means.
June Tinsley, NCBI Head of Advocacy and Communications, said “This is a welcome increase as it helps reduce the poverty traps within the social welfare system that have consistently prevented some people who are blind or vision impaired taking up employment opportunities. A more tapered, flexible and supported system is required to reassure those relying solely on Blind Pension or Disability Allowance that they won’t be financially worse off for taking up employment”.
According to Census 2016, only 24% of people who are blind or vision impaired are in employment. This figure demonstrates the wealth of skills and experiences that are being overlooked by employers. Comparatively, Ireland is lagging behind as the employment rate among people living with sight loss in the UK is 48%, France 35% and New Zealand 32%.
Ms Tinsley said, “Of course this raise in the income disregard does not negate the other barriers experienced such as attitudinal barriers and a lack of knowledge around the availability of workplace supports. Unfortunately, the state response to supporting people with sight loss in employment has generally be hap-hazard thus far and NCBI calls for a more proactive approach in this regard. However, the small increase in the income disregard will help people to dip their toe back in the water without the fear of reassessment or a loss of benefits.”