Minister Joan Burton needs to immediately clarify false figures she gave the Dáil today regarding the number of families that have been denied the disability allowance, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD.

Deputy O’Dea was speaking after Minister Burton furnished the figures during questions in the Dáil.

“The case I have been trying to make is that there seems to have been a shift in Government policy on the guidelines for receiving the payment since the current Government came into office, despite the Minister’s protestations to the contrary.

“To back up her argument, the Minister has claimed that there were dramatic increases in the refusal rates for the disability allowance before she came into office.

“In 2009, there was a 46% refusal rate for disability allowance, this rose to 48% in 2010, not the 54% the Minister has claimed. The figures have been provided to me and there can be no mistake about it. I hope this is not a ploy by the Minister to hide the fact that there has been a jump of 10% in refusal rates for the disability allowance in one year. So far this year, 64% of families that have applied for the disability allowance have been rejected, this equates to 9,128 applications. That is almost 10,000 families, many who may depend on the payment, being denied this vital payment.

“The Minister has tried in vain to deny there has been a change in policy, but since the Government has come into office, refusal rates for the allowance has jumped an astounding 16%. How can the Minister claim there has been no change in policy?

“Thousands of families throughout the country will spend the next couple of months fretting over whether their disability payment will be severed. If there has been no change in policy, the Minister needs to outline why the refusal rates have risen so dramatically.

“I am also calling on the Minister clarify her comments today and admit that her claims on disability allowance refusals in 2010 were wrong.”