A research report on the Cost of Disability in Ireland has been published after permission was given by Cabinet to the Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys TD.
Last Friday, six leading Disability and Mental Health Umbrella Organisations called on Government to publish Indecon research - first commissioned in 2018 - on the cost of having a disability in Ireland.
The aim of the Indecon research was to get a better understanding of the costs that disabled people face in their day-to-day lives that others in society do not face (the "direct costs" approach).
It also looked at the "equivalence" approach which is the amount of additional income a household with a disabled person would require to achieve the same standard of living as a comparable household that does not include a person with a disability.
Using both approaches, Indecon estimated that the overall average annual costs of disability in Ireland ranges from €9,482 per annum to €11,734.
The report finds that there are "a spectrum of costs" that vary across a number of dimensions, including the age of the individual, the severity of disability, as well as the nature of the disability and household type.
While some of the costs reported through a survey with disabled people are already met by the State, further improvements cannot be delivered through income supports alone according to the Department of Social Protection.
It says it requires a broader perspective covering areas such as employment, housing, transport, education and health.
The report will now be referred to the National Disability Inclusion Strategy Steering Group which is chaired by Minister of State with Responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD.
The Minister and the NDIS - the key cross-departmental framework for policy and action to address the needs of persons with disabilities in Ireland - will consider actions required by Government departments on foot of the report.
The Programme for Government commits the Government to using the research to properly inform the direction of future policy.
The Indecon report says there are are significant additional costs faced by disabled people which are currently not met by existing programmes or by social welfare payments.
The analysis shows that the actual costs faced by individuals with severe disabilities on average range from €9,600 - €12,300 per annum and for those with limited disabilities from €8,700 - €10,000.
It points out that along with the additional costs incurred by individuals with a disability, there are unmet costs faced by many as they are not currently affordable.
The research says that individuals with a disability face enormous challenges in living independently and face a high risk of poverty and social exclusion.
It recommends that measures to address the additional costs of disability should be based on a multifaceted approach involving increased cash payments, enhanced access to service provision and specific targeted grant programmes.
It notes that individuals with a disability experience significant challenges in accessing employment and a high priority should be given to facilitating an increase in employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Concentration of any additional supports should be targeted on "those most in need and who face the greatest additional costs of disability". This is according to the research recommendations would be more effective in meeting policy objectives and in enhancing value for money than in introducing additional small scale supports for those who face minor additional costs of disability.
It also says the levels of disability payments and allowances should be changed to reflect the very different costs of disability by severity and type of disability.
"There is a need to recognise the impact on families of individuals with a disability and in particular, the loss of earnings and sacrifices made by families in caring for those most in need", it says.
It adds that when designing supports for individuals with disabilities, the focus should always be on the needs of the individuals and their families.