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Feetham calls on Parliament to review disability allowance

GSD MP Daniel Feetham will call on the Gibraltar Parliament to conduct a wider review of the law and administrative practice relating to the grant of disability benefit.

According to Mr Feetham the current system of benefits and sheltered employment needs to be improved significantly to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy equal opportunities and best possible quality of life.

By way of a motion Mr Feetham will call for a review to be conducted by a working group to report to Parliament with recommendations within the next six months.

This working group should be set up by the Minister responsible for Social Security, Gilbert Licudi, and include cross-party participation, he said.

The motion welcomes the introduction of the 2017 Disability Act, describing it as a “significant breakthrough” in enhancing the rights of disabled people.

In the motion Mr Feetham also welcomes the recent assurances of Mr Licudi when he indicated he was prepared to consider placing the qualifying test for the award of disability allowance on a statutory footing.

But the motion looks to take the issue further by way of a review.

This follows a statement issues by the party last month in which Mr Feetham explained that the way in which Disability Benefit is awarded and operates is a “constant theme” of GSD political surgeries.

The benefit is awarded at the discretion of the Director for Social Security who is advised by an assessment panel as to whether an applicant’s disability “severely and adversely affects” their daily life.

“Our experience from listening and helping people who are disabled, is that the test is being interpreted and applied too narrowly,” Mr Feetham said.

The GSD believes the application process and criteria for Disability Benefit needs to be examined with a view to improving the system and we need to ensure it is brought into line with the Disability Act 2017 and applied properly.

There also needs to be greater transparency and clarity in how the benefit is awarded and administered, so that people understand why decisions are taken and why the benefit is awarded in some cases but not others, the party said.