Working for People with Sight Loss

National Sight Loss Agency Welcomes Income Disregard Increase on Blind Pension

Distorted image of social welfare sign post

Press Release

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.”

ENDS

 

For further information, please contact June Tinsley, Head of Communications on 01 8821917 or 087 9955076

 

Notes to Editor

 

NCBI is the national sight loss organisation, working for people with sight loss.

We provide practical and emotional support, rehabilitation services and other training designed to help people with sight loss to live independently and confidently.

Services Offered:

 

  • Rehabilitation training, including independent living skills and mobility training, and availability of low vision solutions such as magnifiers or other aids.
  • Assistive technology advice and training to learn how to access all accessibility features in mainstream technology as well as latest gadgets and Apps all designed to assist people living with sight loss.
  • Advice and information on Statutory entitlements, eye conditions, supports available etc.
  • Emotional support and counselling for people struggling to come to terms with sight loss.
  • Library offering extensive range of digital, large-print, Braille and audio books.
  • Employment advice for job seekers and employers to maximise the recruitment and retention of staff who are blind or vision impaired.

As a charity NCBI must raise €3 million annually just to keep operating at current levels.