Cyprus Mail

Around 6,000 people to be helped by benefit reforms   

Around 6,000 people will benefit from the increase of €4.2m in the budget allocated for the provision of aid to persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses that was approved on Wednesday by the council of ministers, labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Thursday.

The annual budget rise will see a 30 per cent increase in the current budget of the department for social inclusion for persons with disabilities, Emilianidou said.

The measures include the raising of the monthly benefit received by 750 quadriplegic persons from €854,30 to €900, while those quadriplegics who have additional needs due to life-threatening health-related complications from their disability will be entitled an allowance of €1,100 per month.

The monthly benefit received by 950 paraplegic persons will also rise from €350 to €400, while those with additional healthcare needs would receive a monthly allowance of €500.

A further 2,300 people with quadriplegia, paraplegia, other motor disabilities, visual disabilities, nephropathy or thalassemia who are currently receiving or are in the process of receiving a monthly mobility allowance will see an increase from €102 to €150 or from €51 to €75 once an amendment to the relevant legislation is passed.

The ministers also approved the provision of a €75 mobility allowance to 1,900 blind persons who were until now not entitled to an allowance as they were unemployed or were not students. The monthly allowance will be granted regardless of these factors once the relevant legislation is amended.

The department for social inclusion for persons with disabilities will handle all adjustments without requiring any action from the part of the beneficiaries, who will receive their increased allowance in their bank account as was previously the case.

Only those paraplegic and quadriplegic persons who are entitled to a higher allowance due to additional healthcare needs will be required to submit the relevant application to the department which will evaluate and certify their needs.

Emilianidou also noted that in view of encouraging persons with chronic illnesses to enter the labour market, the council of ministers also approved the re-launching of the incentive scheme for the recruitment of people with chronic disease.

The total budget for the project, funded by the European Social Cohesion Fund is €2m, and will provide for the recruitment of 100 unemployed chronic patients. The project will be launched on May 20 by the labour department.

According to the head of the Pancyprian organisation of the blind, Christakis Nicolaides, the scheme for the recruitment of persons with disabilities that is already in place, which offers to cover 75 per cent of the wage and social insurance costs of a disabled employee, has so far led to the employment of 85 persons and is able to support the employment of 20 more.

According to Emilianidou, the department for social inclusion for persons with disabilities launched on Monday a public tender for the construction of 10 new residences island-wide, as well as for the provision of assisted living services, mainly for persons with mental disabilities and autism who do not enjoy adequate family support.

Another important decision taken by the council of ministers, Emilianidou noted, was the approval of a revised proposal tabled by the labour ministry, which seeks the establishment of a centre for family intervention and support for autistic children, which will provide additional psychosocial support services to the child and its family, as well as preparatory educational services to pre-school autistic children.

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