Methodology Change Increases Number of Persons With Disabilities by 115,000

Total Croatia News

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Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

In January 2020, there were 497,000 people in the national register of persons with disabilities while in March 2022 their number was 612,000, which is a significant figure considering that according to the 2021 census, Croatia has a population of some 3.9 million.

The Croatian Public Health Institute, which is in charge of the register, says that the increase is due to a change in data collection methodology, after in 2020 it had access, for the first time, to the complete data base of the Institute for Expertise, Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, Slonjšak said.

New law on register in force as of 11 June

The new law on the register of persons with disabilities, which took effect on 11 June, should enable a better coverage of data on persons with disabilities and a faster and better exchange of data from all available official records.

Slonjšak expressed regret that most of her proposals, presented during public consultation on the new law, had not been accepted, and in that context pointed to proposals regarding the creation of conditions for the introduction of a European disability card.

She said that currently the biggest problems faced by persons with disabilities were poverty and social exclusion.

Slonjšak said that poverty and social exclusion were among the most pressing problems of that community even before the latest price hikes, and in 2021 one-fifth of all complaints to her office concerned access to social benefits and housing and to disability or material deprivation-related rights.

Social as well as disability benefits have so far been low and insufficient to cover the basic cost of living, and in the context of current price hikes and inflation the situation has become even more difficult, she says.

“The long-awaited minimum increases in individual benefits in February 2022 have already been annulled by inflation,” she says.

Waiting for inclusion allowance

Slonjšak welcomed the government’s measures intended for the general population and the HRK 250 increase in disability allowance (monthly disability allowance amounts to HRK 1,750) as well as the increase in the allowance for vulnerable energy buyers, but stressed that overall, they had not significantly improved the standard of living for persons with disabilities, which was why they expected additional help.

Asked about laws on personal assistants and disability inclusion allowance, whose adoption has been announced for a long time, the ombudswoman said that they were expected to be adopted in the last quarter of this year but that their adoption had been announced many times in the past ten years and that it was therefore difficult to say if they would be adopted by then.

“The law on personal assistants would help resolve problems airing from the fact that it is a service that over the past 15 years has been secured exclusively through projects launched by nongovernmental organisations while disability inclusion allowance, a cash benefit depending on the type and severity of disability, should contribute to improving the living standards and social protection of persons with disabilities”, Slonjšak said.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


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