Principle 17 of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) emphasises the right of people with disabilities to “income support that ensures living in dignity” as well as “services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society”.
Similarly, Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which all EU Member States as well as the EU itself are parties, clearly expresses the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to an “adequate standard of living”.
This Synthesis Report prepared by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) describes and analyses the conditions under which persons with disabilities aged 18 years and above have effective access to social protection. It focuses on the provision of various disability-specific income support schemes, benefits for some risks other than disability, as well as selected support services for people with disabilities, namely:
- disability-specific income support for working age people with disabilities;
- social protection measures for older people with disabilities;
- financial support to cover specific disability-related expenses in the fields of healthcare and housing;
- social protection benefits for two risks other than disability (mainstream unemployment benefits as well as minimum income schemes); and
- provision of assistive technology and personal assistance.
The report also provides an overview of ongoing policy reforms and of national debates having an impact on the social protection of people with disabilities, and identifies good practices enhancing the access of people with disabilities to social protection benefits and services.
It covers 35 countries: the 27 EU Member States, the UK and 7 (potential) candidate countries.
The report shows that while the vast majority of the countries analysed have measures in place which address, to varying extents, the needs of persons with disabilities (thereby advancing the rights enshrined in the EPSR as well as in the UNCRPD), important gaps and obstacles still need to be tackled to ensure effective access to social protection for people with disabilities.
Poverty among persons with disabilities persists, resulting from a combination of insufficient resources (due to low levels of benefits or other personal/ household income components), inadequate content and/or design of social protection schemes (including gaps in support), low uptake and implementation barriers.
The report pinpoints the main gaps and obstacles preventing people with disabilities from fully realising their right to social protection and hindering them from having the same opportunities in life as everyone else.
These gaps and obstacles relate in particular to: the effectiveness of application procedures, the nature of current disability assessment frameworks, the level of income protection, and the model of provision for accessing assistive technology and personal assistance services.
Finally, the report sets out several recommendations at national and/or EU level to address the gaps and obstacles identified, with a view to enhancing access and effectiveness of social protection systems for persons with disabilities and to ultimately promoting their rights in this area, in line with the UNCRPD and the EPSR.