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08/09/2020   National Audit Office of Lithuania: State and municipal assistance reaches only a part of persons with disabilities, there is a lack of adaptation of environment and information measures

One third of persons with disabilities are at risk of poverty in our country, and this rate is 10.7 percentage point higher than the overall at-risk-of-poverty rate (20.6 per cent), according to the latest data from the Statistics Lithuania.  In order to reduce the gap, it is important to provide the persons with individual comprehensive assistance and adapt the environment, however, the audit “Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities” performed by the National Audit Office of Lithuania (NAOL) shows that disabled persons do not have sufficient access to services according to their needs, numbers of those employed in the open labour market are not increasing, and there is a lack of adaptation of public buildings, transport, websites and mobile applications. Creating the proper conditions and providing assistance has become particularly relevant in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Last year’s audit on social assistance (https://www.vkontrole.lt/Press Release) assessed whether social assistance ensures minimum consumption needs of people living in poverty and encourages entry into the labour market. This year the audit aimed to assess whether persons with disabilities have been provided with opportunities to live independently in the community, participate fully in society and integrate into the labour market,” says Neringa Raglienė, Principal Auditor of the Public Welfare Audit Department of the NAOL.

In 2019, 8 per cent of Lithuania’s population had a disability. The majority of persons with disabilities were of working age (158 thousand), but only 29 per cent worked (compared to 40 per cent in Estonia in 2018), and this figure has not increased over the last five years. According to the audit results, only 7 per cent (11 thousand) of persons of working age with disabilities apply to the Employment Services for employment assistance every year, and their involvement and activity is not significantly improving. The share of persons employed in the open market has decreased to 22.6 per cent over the last year. (there were 24.5 per cent in 2018). State aid is more oriented towards a closed labour market, with 82 per cent of the funds allocated to support the employment of persons with disabilities, out of EUR 40 million, were allocated to social enterprises, employing 3 times less persons than in the open labour market. 

The audit found that some persons with disabilities do not receive comprehensive services that respond to individual needs, as assistance needs are identified in different institutions, coordination of actions and exchange of information between them do not take place, and it is not monitored whether the assistance helps to live independently. The results of the case study conducted in the course of the audit (https://bit.ly/3hMgNmQ, in Lithuanian) show that only 13 per cent of the persons identified as having a need for assistance received special services in municipalities. 35 per cent of persons with disabilities did not apply for help and the municipalities had no information about them.

According to data provided by municipalities, more than half of them (32 per cent) do not ensure that at least 30 per cent of public buildings providing social, educational, health and cultural services are adapted to persons with disabilities. In 34 municipalities, no means of public transport were available for persons with disabilities. In five major cities, accessibility is increasing to 56 per cent, in other municipalities, transport renewal is slow and accessibility is only 12 per cent. State and municipal websites for persons with disabilities need to be adapted by September 2020, however, in 2019 only 3.4 per cent of them were adapted and mobile applications were not assessed.

Implementation of the recommendations made by the NAOL would provide an integral framework for assessing and responding to individual needs, introducing the most effective tools for the involvement of persons with disabilities in the open labour market and greater involvement of employers in the process of employment, improving recruitment, evaluating public buildings and transport facilities and developing action plans to improve accessibility, adapting public sector websites and mobile applications.

The results of the audit “Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities” were presented in a discussion with representatives of policy-making institutions and non-governmental organisations in this field. You can view the record of the discussionhere: https://bit.ly/33bYtNS (in Lithuanian).

 

Responsible for the information Communication Division
Last updated on 5 October 2020

National Audit Office of Lithuania

Pamėnkalnio St 27, LT-01113 Vilnius, Phone: + 370 5 266 6793, + 370 5 266 6752, Email: nao@vkontrole.lt.