AONTAS strongly opposes the decision to scrap the rehabilitative training allowance, worth €31.80 a week per student, which was announced by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in July 2019.
Adult learners consistently tell us that their basic needs must be met before they are in a position to engage in learning opportunities. The recent Adult Education Survey 2017 published by the CSO revealed that significant obstacles exist preventing adults from accessing education including the affordability of courses, the cost of travel, age and health. This cut is another entirely unfair and unnecessary barrier. According to our members who work with people with disabilities including the National Learning Network (NLN), who provide training and specialist supports, “This small allowance facilitates people with disabilities to pay for travel and basic subsistence to attend training courses that can be far from their homes.”
Yesterday Ben Hendriksen, AONTAS Advocacy Lead, facilitated a discussion about restoring the allowance in full at Leinster House between TDs and some of those learners and campaigners directly affected. Working with some of the most vulnerable learners in Ireland, AONTAS has been lobbying Oireachtas members using #AllowUsLearn on social media platforms alongside The Rehab Group, The Irish Wheelchair Association, Inclusion Ireland, As I Am Ireland, The Central Remedial Clinic, and The Disability Federation.
At the event a number of TDs demonstrated cross-party support for the campaign stating they will raise this issue and the injustice of it with their own party colleagues in the Dáil and Seanad, including the relevant Ministers.
In attendance were Jan O’Sullivan TD (Labour) Darragh O'Brien TD (Fianna Fáil), Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD (Sinn Féin), Brendan Ryan TD (Labour), Joan Collins TD (Independents 4 Change), Seamus Healy TD (Independent), Eamon Scanlon TD (Fianna Fáil), Fiona O'Loughlin TD (Fianna Fáil), Margaret Murphy O'Mahony TD (Fianna Fáil), Catherine Connolly TD (Independent), Seán Haughey TD (Fianna Fáil). Each spoke about the importance of restoring the rehabilitative training (RT) allowance, with some of the TDs calling it perhaps the ‘meanest’ spending cut they have ever seen.
For more information contact AONTAS Advocacy Lead Ben Hendriksen