The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD, today, 13th February 2012, announced a number of initiatives to enhance the range of supports available for people with disabilities who are looking to take up employment or development opportunities.
The initiatives include the launch of the Partial Capacity Benefit Scheme and the launch of a new national identity – “EmployAbility Service“ – for the former FÁS, now Department of Social Protection, range of employment services for people with disabilities.
On making the announcement, Minister Burton said: “People with a disability face particular challenges being accepted for and taking up work opportunities. One of the benefits from the merger of FÁS with the Department of Social Protection is that we will now be able to integrate our activities to develop new and improve existing measures and initiatives and to help people build on their abilities to overcome the barriers to gaining and maintaining employment”.
Partial Capacity Benefit
To help people build on their abilities, the Department will from 13th February 2012 provide a new Partial Capacity Benefit payment option for people with disabilities who are in receipt of an Invalidity Pension or who are in receipt of Illness Benefit for more than six months.
The Partial Capacity Benefit scheme will provide an opportunity for people with disabilities to have their capacity for work assessed and to receive an ongoing income support payment based on this assessment.
Any increase being paid in respect of a qualified adult or qualified children will not be affected.
They can then avail of employment opportunities, with no restriction on employment income, while continuing to receive their income support payment form the Department of Social Protection.
Participation in the scheme will be voluntary and the scheme will address a limitation of the current welfare system by explicitly recognising and responding to the reality that some people with disabilities will have a capacity to engage in employment while continuing to need some income support from the State.
The objective of the scheme is to assist and encourage people with disabilities to return to the workplace without fear of loss of their disability related social welfare payments.Together with the range of EmployAbility services provided by the Department of Social Protection this new scheme will provide a new impetus to people with disabilities, and potential employers, to focus on their abilities and capacity to work rather than being pigeonholed as ‘incapacitated’.
Case Study – Partial Capacity Benefit
John, who is married with two children, had to leave his job as a painter and decorator following an accident which resulted in a bad back injury. He qualified for Invalidity Pension and receives a weekly payment of €391.20 (comprising a personal rate of €193.50, a qualified adult increase of €138.10 and child dependent increases of €29.80 for his two children).
John is able to do some light office work and has secured a job where he will work for five mornings a week, earning €200 per week. Under the Partial Capacity Scheme, John is assessed to have a moderate restriction on his work capacity and therefore continues to qualify for a weekly invalidity pension of €294.45 (comprising a reduced personal rate of €96.75, the qualified adult increase of €138.10 and child dependent increases of €29.80 for his two children). Gross household income therefore increases from €391.20 to €494.45.
The consolidation of the programmes for people with disabilities as a national ‘EmployAbility Service’ gives the service a consistent identifiable nationwide identity.
The EmployAbility service which offers a range of supports, including workplace adaptation grants, wage subsidies and on-site job coaches and mentors, to people with disability and to employers, is key in supporting people with disabilities overcome the challenges not only of adapting to employment and being accepted in the workplace but in demonstrating their productive capability and ability to do the job.
The service also acts to reassure employers and give them the confidence to take what may be perceived to be the risk of employing a person with a disability. The new identity, by focussing on the positive benefits of “employing ability” rather than “supporting employment” will also help to address this misconception and will be instrumental in further promoting the programme among employers and people with disabilities.
Announcing the initiatives Minister Burton said: “The Department of Social Protection is committed to supporting people to participate more fully in society and to become more self-sufficient by providing supports that address barriers that they may face. The initiatives outlined are examples of this commitment in action”.
The Minister also confirmed the expansion of the European Social Fund /Department of Social Protection funded Disability Activation Project. A formal launch will take place later this month.