Cyprus Mail

Government called on to increase numbers getting disability allowance

Lawmakers on Tuesday called on the government to comply fully with a Supreme Court ruling on granting disabled people severe motor disability allowance.

In January 2016 the Supreme Court ruled on a case brought before it by a disabled person aged over 65.

The individual took their case to the Supreme Court, challenging a prior refusal by the labour ministry’s department for social inclusion to grant the severe motor disability allowance.

Under current policy, only people aged 12 to 65 are eligible.

The top court ruled that the individual was entitled to the allowance and also rejected the ministry’s argument that opening the allowance to persons over 65 would entail an additional cost to the state.

According to Disy MP Marios Mavrides, the government subsequently disbursed the allowance to the individual in question but it has not amended policy and regulations to cover all such cases.

Andreas Fakondis, chair of the House labour committee, said MPs are going to give the government time to come back with proposals on how to deal conclusively with the matter.

The matter would be revisited once parliament reconvenes after the summer recess.

Parliamentarians also discussed the latest observations by the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (dated April 12, 2017).

The observations were a response to a report filed to the UN by Cyprus regarding its policy on the disabled.

The UN had about 70 observations, of which 65 highlighted areas of concern and recommendations.

Among others, it recommended that Cyprus adopt a new national disability action plan and allocate “adequate funding to its implementation.”

The UN Committee also expressed concern that “national legislation lacks a definition of discrimination that recognises that denial of reasonable accommodation is a form of disability-based discrimination in all areas of life.”

In parliament, the Confederation of the Disabled Peoples Organisations (KYSOA) complained that their input was not sought by the government when the latter submitted its report to the UN.

Christakis Nicolaides, head of KYSOA, said Cyprus has a poor track record in this area. He said that due to shortcomings in the system, disabled people are denied the right to independent living.

Greens MP George Perdikis said Cyprus fares very poorly in terms of the inclusion in society of disabled people.

The government, he added, “should not skimp” on the roughly €1 million it would need to spend if it abolished age restrictions concerning the motor disability allowance.

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