Minister Humphreys announces changes to the Reasonable Accommodation Fund and Disability Awareness Support Scheme
Tuesday, 29 August 2023
The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced that major changes will be made to the Reasonable Accommodation Fund and the Disability Awareness Support Scheme following a comprehensive review of both schemes.
The Reasonable Accommodation Fund provides financial support for people with disabilities and for employers to help make their workplaces more accessible and to provide a range of in-work supports. The Disability Awareness Support Scheme provides funding for disability awareness training for employees.
The review makes a number of important recommendations based on stakeholder feedback as part of the public consultation process. The review also draws on research and best practice from other countries. The report made nine recommendations:
- Combine both schemes and replace with a single flexible scheme.
- Simplify the application process.
- Provide approval-in-principle for employers and jobseekers to assist with planning.
- Extend the supports provided by the scheme to other employers - for example the community and voluntary sector and the commercial state-sponsored sector.
- Extend the supports provided by the Employee Retention Grant to new recruits and employees with pre-existing disabilities.
- Enhance the Disability Awareness Support Scheme to offer wider training that also includes employers who currently do not have an employee with a disability.
- Increase the number of support hours (interpreter, in-work support, etc) eligible for funding.
- Support funding for blended working and full-time working from home.
- Ensure extensive promotion of the reformed scheme.
Announcing the publication of the Review today, Minister Humphreys said:
“I am pleased to publish this review today which is based on extensive stakeholder engagement and consultation. I am delighted that over 900 responses were received from organisations, employers and people, from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, who took the time to contribute.
“These are positive schemes which are designed to support and help people with a disability into the workforce. Unfortunately take-up has been lower than expected which is why I commissioned a review so that we can examine how we can make them more accessible for people.
“It is clear that what we need is a simple, flexible scheme that works better for people with a disability and for employers.
“We know that it is harder for people with disabilities to get into the workforce and Ireland is behind the EU average for employment rates for people with disabilities. At a time of full employment, we must do more. I have therefore asked my officials to expedite the implementation of these recommendations so that we can have a much-improved scheme in place from Q1 2024.”
The report on the Review of the Reasonable Accommodation Fund and the Disability Awareness Support Scheme can be found here
The Department of Social Protection will work over the coming months to implement the recommendations in the report and plan to have the updated scheme in place from Q1 2024.
Notes to Editor:
The Department of Social Protection provides public employment services for people with a disability, assists them with finding paid employment and prepares them for employment through training and other employment supports. In addition, there are a number of supports for employers, including the Reasonable Accommodation Fund which is composed of the following grants:
Also available is the Disability Awareness Support Scheme (DASS) which offers funding to private sector employers to provide Disability Awareness Training for staff who work with a colleague who has a disability.
If you are an employee with a need for a specialist software, for example magnifying software, you and your employer can apply for the Workplace Equipment Adaptation Grant at your local Intreo office. You will also need three quotes from suppliers if the price of the adaption is over €1,500, and medical evidence for why this change is required. Applications are reviewed and approved locally.
Once your application is approved, your employer will receive the amount you applied for to purchase the required software.