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Summary of two-year work: people with disabilities

27-11-2017

Over the last two years, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy undertook a number of measures for people with disabilities and their families.These include e.g. the “For Life” programme and tasks implemented by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities (PFRON).

 

As regards measures undertaken by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy, besides the “For Life” programme and the tasks implemented by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities, particular attention should be paid to legislative changes brought about by the Ministry, which are favourable both for people with disabilities and employers.The situation of people with disabilities is improving also through the implementation of projects financed with EU funds and tasks commissioned to non-governmental organisations.

 

Aid under the “For Life” programme

 

Shortly after the introduction of the “Family 500+” programme, the government introduced another family policy instrument – the “For Life” programme.The “For Life” programme was adopted in 2016, soon after the Act on Support for Pregnant Women and Families had been passed.This is a comprehensive support package for families raising children with disabilities.

 

The “For Life” programme provides for e.g. comprehensive care for the woman and her child during pregnancy and after childbirth, early support for child development, access to services involving coordination, care and rehabilitation, as well as specialised counselling and support by family assistants.

 

The programme provides also for an additional one-time benefit in the amount of PLN 4 thousand.This benefit is paid to families in which a child with a severe and irreversible impairment or an incurable life-threatening illness is born.

 

Specific solutions adopted in the “For Life” programme provide also for e.g. support for people with disabilities through the development of sheltered housing, vocational activation of caregivers of people with disabilities, as well as enhancing the preventive aspect of tasks implemented by family assistants.This year, more than PLN 23 million has been allocated for vocational activation of caregivers of people with disabilities from the Labour Fund, and almost PLN 55.5 million will be allocated for this purpose in the next four years.

 

Wide range of support options

 

As a result of the adoption of the Act on Support for Pregnant Women and for Families and the comprehensive “For life” programme, family assistants have been granted new powers.They are now responsible for coordination of counselling for pregnant and postnatal women who gave birth to a child with severe and irreversible disability or an incurable life-threatening illness, as well as for the families of such women.The number of family assistants increased from 3.9 to 4.3 thousand.

 

The wide range of support options will be complemented with measures undertaken under other programmes and ones using other funding sources.This includes the “Respite Care” programme developed by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy.This programme will be implemented to provide care for people with disabilities and support for family members caring for a disabled child.It is planned to provide to a person with a disability up to 120 hours of care.This year, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy intends to spend PLN 53 million for this purpose.In subsequent years, the level of financing would be PLN 106.5 million per year.

 

Easier access to community self-help homes

 

Easier access to community self-help homes for a larger number of people, including those with the Autism spectrum Disorder, has also been envisaged.This measure will be piloted under applicable regulations, once a request has been notified to the voivode.
 

PLN 52 million has been earmarked this year for the development of a network of community self-help homes.Over subsequent years, almost PLN 74 million will be spent on this measure annually.

 

Amendments to the Social Welfare Act set the minimum level of funding per participant of a community self-help home.In accordance with these amendments, the 2017 subsidy amount is 200% of the income criterion for a person running a one-person household, i.e. PLN 1,268.In 2018, this will be 230% of the income criterion for a person running a one-person household, i.e.PLN 1,458, while in 2019 – 250% of the income criterion for a person running a one-person household, i.e. PLN 1,585.

 

Subsidies to salaries of a new category of individuals

 

An amendment to the Act on Vocational and Social Rehabilitation and Employment of People with Disabilities has made it possible for employers to obtain subsidies to salaries paid to people who were hired as people without disabilities but became disabled in the course of their employment.This amendment has made employment more stable.

 

Payment of the salary must come first, then co-financing

 

In accordance with the amendment to the existing regulations, subsidies may be obtained only if the employee has been paid remuneration before a request for a subsidy has been made.This amendment bounds the employer with the obligation to pay out remuneration before he or she makes a request for a subsidy.This facilitates fulfilment of the obligations to an employee with a disability.
 

Exemptions from payment of liabilities


In 2015, it was made possible to grant exemptions from payment of liabilities to the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities. The scope of such exemptions was extended in 2016.The new regulation provides for cancellation of debt, spreading it into instalments or postponing the payment.


Extended deadline for farmers


In the fourth quarter of 2015, the deadline for submitting requests for the refund of contributions to be met by farmers was extended – from the 20th day of the second month of the quarter to the last day of the second month of the quarter.
Higher employment and a lower level of unemployment among people with disabilities

 

In the 2nd quarter of 2017, the rate of occupational activity among disabled people at working age reached – according to data from the Economic Activity Survey – an unprecedented value, namely 29.6%, while the employment rate among those persons was 27.2%.  Since the 2nd quarter of 2015, the occupational activity rate increased by as much as 5.1 p.p., while the employment rate rose by 5.9 p.p.At the same time, the rate of unemployment among people with disabilities at working age has fallen by as much as 4.7 p.p. and reached 8.1%.

 

A positive change in the situation of people with disabilities on the labour market is confirmed also by data concerning registered unemployment.As at the end of August 2017, the number of unemployed people with disabilities registered in poviat labour offices was 71.5 thousand,i.e. almost 25% lower than in December 2015 (23.7 thousand fewer people).


In 2015, the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities paid out wage subsidies for 301,024 people, working altogether for 30,802 employers.In the following year, these figures were 309,080 and 33,223, respectively. As at the end of the 3rd quarter of this year, the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities provided support in the form of wage subsidies for 307,175 employees, working altogether for 34,240 employers.Based on the figure as at the 3rd quarter of this year it can be inferred that the number of people supported in 2017 will be significantly higher than in previous years. 

 

Interestingly, an increasingly greater number of people with higher degrees of disability, who have therefore more difficulty with finding a job, are recorded in the system for handling subsidies and reimbursements operated by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities.

 

Higher spending from the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities


The increase in the number of disabled workers entered into the system for handling subsidies and reimbursements is accompanied by an increase in amounts spent by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities.In 2015, the Fund earmarked for wage subsidies a total of PLN 2,903,835,941.40.A year later, this was PLN 2,964,945,310.05.It is estimated that this year’s figure will be approx. PLN 3,200,000,000.


Changes in handling beneficiaries entered into the system for handling subsidies and reimbursements


As at the end of 2016, there were approx. 10 thousand pending administrative proceedings.As at the end of the 3rd quarter this year, there were fewer than 7 thousand such proceedings.Approx. 4.5 thousand proceedings have been completed per quarter in 2017.This means a decrease in the number of pending administrative proceedings.The State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities puts also great emphasis on the timely handling of cases and shortening the time it takes for the beneficiary to receive a decision. To this end, the working hours of the customer service staff in the Office of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities have been extended and the processing of paper applications has been delegated to field branches.

 

Tasks for non-governmental organisations in 2016…

 

The State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities announces competitions in which non-governmental organisations may apply for co-financing of projects implemented for the benefit of people with disabilities.

 

In 2016, the Fund announced two competitions for outsourcing the execution of tasks by non-governmental organisations.In the period concerned, agreements (including long-term ones) concluded under competitions announced previously by the Fund were also being implemented.The Fund’s support was granted to 480 non-governmental organisations which covered with their social and occupational rehabilitation measures 45,930 people with disabilities.PLN 207,103,267.09 was paid out in 2016 under 763 contracts for outsourcing the execution of tasks.

 

and in 2017

 

In 2017, the Fund announced another four competitions for outsourcing task execution.As in 2016, the announcement of each competition was preceded with public consultations.Non-governmental organisations could put forward their postulates both electronically and at organised consultation meetings.In the period covered concerned, 442 non-governmental organisations received subsidies granted through competitions.It is planned that almost 44,000 people with disabilities will be supported this year.PLN 246,981,000 has been earmarked for projects implemented by non-governmental organisations in the financial plan of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities for 2017.

 

Programmes of the Supervisory Board of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities

 

In December 2016, the Supervisory Board of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities approved three new programmes:“STABLE EMPLOYMENT” – people with disabilities in public administration and services, and “WORK-INTEGRATION”, aimed at increasing the rate of employment among people with disabilities on the open labour market.

 

Furthermore, the Supervisory Board of the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities approved in 2017 the “Support for People with Disabilities Affected by Disasters in 2017" programme.Support provided for in the programme is complementary to the aid paid out by the central and local government authorities.

 

In 2016-2017, the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities continued the implementation of the “Active local-government” pilot programme, “Programme of eliminating differences between regions III”, Programme of support for international sport events for people with disabilities” and “Partnership for people with disabilities – programme of cooperation with Voivodeship Boards to co-finance projects of NGOs selected for subsidising through competitions organised by Voivodeship Boards under Regional Operational Programmes”.

 

PO WER for people with disabilities

 

Under the Operational Programme: Knowledge Education Development 2014-2020 (PO WER), the National Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities has developed two complementary projects that set directions of changes in the rehabilitation system in Poland.The first one is entitled “Development and pilot implementation of a model of comprehensive rehabilitation enabling taking up/return to work”.The project is to be implemented from January 2018 to September 2022.Its budget amounts toPLN 85.3 million.

 

The other project under PO WER is entitled “Implementation of a new model of educating rehabilitation management specialists – as an element of the system for comprehensive rehabilitation in Poland”.The project is to be implemented from 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2020.Its budget amounts toPLN 6.3 million.

 

Digital Poland – facilitations for people with disabilities

 

The State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities has developed and is implementing a project entitled “System for handling financial support from the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities”, co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund under Operational Programme: Digital Poland for 2014-2020. The aim of the project is to enable people with disabilities and their organisations to handle electronically issues related to the support for occupational and social integration funded by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities.At present, work on the development and launch of an RTM version of the system is under way.The alpha version of the system is to be delivered in December 2017. The project is planned to be implemented from 1 March 2016 to 28 February 2019. The total budget of the project amounts to PLN 23.9 million.

 

New disability ID card

 

People with disabilities presenting their disability ID cards or cards confirming the disability degree are entitled to various discounts in charges for goods and services offered by both public and private entities. 

 

The introduction of a new model of the disability ID card due to the non-functionality of old ones, was supposed to improve their sustainability and legibility, and to ensure their accessibility for blind people by using the Braille alphabet.The new model of the disability ID card provides for the protection of particularly sensitive data presented on the card, which relate to the disability degree, and of the symbol of the cause of the disability by using a QR code.

 

New form of dialogue with people with disabilities

 

The composition of the National Consultation Council for Disabled Persons has been changed so that it better represents this community.At present, the Council, which used to be represented by merely seven disabled persons, is dominated by such representatives (20 members out of the total of 35).The method of selecting representatives of people with disabilities has also been changed – a candidate has to be approved now by 15 other non-governmental organisations.This ensures enhanced representativeness of people with disabilities.

 

Changes in carer’s allowances

 

Since 1 January 2017, a parent that resigns from salaried work in order to care for a child with a disability where the other parent already receives a carer’s allowance for another disabled family member (e.g. another child) is also entitled to this allowance.

 

Pre-retirement benefits for carers of people with disabilities

 

On 1 January 2017, under the Act on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Markets, a provision was introduced that enables carers of people with disabilities to receive an unemployment benefit or a pre-retirement benefit after the death of the disabled person.

 

Increased co-financing of the cost of an annual stay at occupational therapy workshops

 

Since 1 January 2016, this amount has been PLN 15,996 (before that date, this was PLN 14,796).Increased co-financing of the stay of one participant at occupational therapy workshops has resulted in improved operation of such workshops and has enabled their further development.

 

New approach to public consultations – “Consultations +” project

 

The “Consultations +” project was launched on 1 March 2017 and will be continued until 31 March 2018 under Operational Programme: Knowledge Education Development, Priority Axis II.“Effective Public Policies for the Labour Market, Economy and Education”, Measure 2.16. "Streamlining the Lawmaking Process".The project has been implemented by the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy and Caritas Polska.

 

The project is aimed mainly at conducting in-depth public consultations concerning amendments to the laws in connection with the entry into force of the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of 20 December 2016 on the "For Life" comprehensive family support programme.

 

Two all-Poland and 16 regional conferences, as well as 32 local meetings at occupational therapy workshops and community self-help homes have been organised as part of the project.

 

 

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