Webinar on Poverty and Social Exclusion of Persons with Disabilities

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Summary

On April 22th, the European Disability Forum (EDF) organised a webinar with the support of the Anti-Poverty Network on poverty and social exclusion of persons with disabilities. Benefiting from the publication of EDF human rights report on Poverty and Social Exclusion, it was a good opportunity to present the key findings of the report and to discuss about how this issue is being addressed in the EU.

This webinar was conducted by Haydn Hammersley, EDF Social Policy Officer and was supported by Raquel Riaza, Events and Administration Officer and by other colleagues from EDF‘s office. The webinar was accessible for persons with disabilities providing live captioning and international sign language interpretation. It was recorded and it will be available on EDF’s website.

Haydn Hammersley, who was the moderator but also a speaker, gave a brief overview on poverty and social inclusion of persons with disabilities. He presented as well the main conclusions of the EDF report which was prepared with the data provided by Eurostat and the research conducted by several European universities

Elena Schubert, Policy Officer from the European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, explained how the EU can have an impact on this issue. She also mentioned the main initiatives the European Commission is putting in place in response of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vera Hinterdorfer, Vice-President of the European Anti-Poverty Network, touched upon how EU tackles poverty and social exclusion in a general way including some prospects for 2020 and beyond.

Stijn Broecke, Senior economist in the Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), spoke about the possibilities of future employment of persons with disabilities.

Loredana Dicsi, EDF Internal Communications and Membership Officer, gave her personal testimony to underline how serious is this problem particularly for persons with disabilities.

Finally, there wasn’t much time for questions but all questions received during the webinar will be answered in written and sent to all participants.

 

Questions

Below are answers to some of the questions asked by participants that could not be answered live:
 
1) Level of wages and employment percentages: I am wondering if you can tell me if the at-risk-of-poverty (AROP) measure was it 50% or 60% of the median wage?  Also do you have the employment levels of Persons without disabilities in Europe?
 
The sub-indicator “at-risk-of-poverty rate after social transfers” used by EU-SILC classes people living in a household with an equivalised disposable income of less than 60% of the median national average after social transfers, as being at risk of poverty. For the employment rates of persons without disabilities, and the comparison with rates for persons with disabilities, you can refer to chapter 6 of our 2020 Human Rights Report on Poverty and Social Exclusion of Persons with Disabilities.
2) Extra disability-related costs: National estimates of annual additional costs differ a lot. Can you explain the differences between countries? Are the extra amounts mentioned covered by the health insurance systems?
 
The differences in extra cost of living for persons with disabilities, depending on the country, are difficult to fully explain. A full answer would require very in-depth research. However, the indication is that the extra costs have a direct correlation with the  things persons with disabilities are required to pay for themselves because mainstream services or appliances are not accessible for them (transport, technology etc), because certain things are simply far more expensive for persons with disabilities (accessible housing, accessible personalised transport, etc.) and because in some cases necessary assistive devices or services, which can be extremely expensive, are not reimbursed sufficiently or at all (including personal assistance or sign-language interpreters).
 
The various pieces of research we have referenced regarding the extra cost of living for persons with disabilities estimate the extra cost of living even after social transfers. Some of the figures in our report are based on the ability to just about get by, and others express how much extra persons with disabilities need to spend to have the same quality of life as the average person without a disability.
 
3) Minimum basic income: In the Netherlands we have a growing political discussion about a minimum basic income (as proposed by Thomas Piketty and others) for everyone, people with and without disability. Is this something you're looking at too? Could this be an option EU-wide?
 
EAPN’s position is that a guaranteed minimum income is a right for all people throughout their entire lives. This should be achieved by:
• Ensuring that MIS take people out of poverty and above the 60% median disposable household income poverty threshold (AROP), underpinned by national reference budgets that capture real costs of essential goods and services.
• Providing comprehensive coverage and seamless transitions to other benefits at all stages.
• Supporting person-centred, integrated support as part of a positive “active inclusion approach” which is based on case-management approaches and personalised planning.
• Ensuring access to other key social rights for MI beneficiaries, e.g. decent housing, education, affordable health, and not just as a “condition” or an “instrument” to get them into work. For EAPN, EU social standards must be rights, should never be conditional or treated as a disincentive to work. And conditionality of this type is a contradiction to the rights-based approach that the EU has signed up to.
• Offering a positive hierarchy to minimum wages, in order to provide positive incentives to work. This means MW wage should be set higher than MI, rather than reducing MI.
EAPN and its members also advocate for getting a EU Framework Directive on Minimum Income, as explained by our Vice President Vera Hinterdorfer.
EAPN will issue in May a Position Paper on Adequate Income, comprising both minimum income and minimum wage which will be posted to our webpage which you are invited to read.
 
4) Cooperation between organisations: How can disability organisations and anti-poverty organisations advocate together, especially in a context were these organisations in many countries are overloaded and underfunded? In your opinion, what first actions they could undertake?
 
EDF and EAPN join forces as members of the Social Platform. Together we are pushing for poverty to be addressed as a central issue in the future EU Disability Strategy, and likewise for persons with disabilities to be addressed specifically in any follow-up to the EU 2020 Agenda for Growth and Jobs. We also try to make sure that poverty of persons with disabilities is addressed by the EU during the European Semester process, and that EU funds go towards improving the social inclusion (including reduction of poverty) of persons with disabilities.

 

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