New Regulations Fail To Ensure Equal Financial Access For Individuals with Disabilities

National Advocacy Service report highlights various challenges faced by people with disabilities, showcasing instances that illustrate the difficulties encountered when attempting to handle and access their finances. Some individuals have been entirely barred from reaching their own monetary resources, while others receive restricted allowances, constraining their independence and life decisions.

“People can face challenges with banking and digital exclusion, may experience control of their finances by others and even financial abuse”, according to the annual report National Advocacy Service.

Chairman Rosemary Smyth said: “In April 2023, The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (ADMCA) commenced. The act aims to achieve key reforms including the abolition of the wards of court system for adults. A core principle of the act is the presumption that everyone has capacity until proven otherwise. Equally, a person should be fully supported to make their own decisions as far as is possible, emphasizing that person’s will and preferences must be considered at all times.”

Advocates addressed the case of a middle-aged woman with a mild intellectual disability, residing in care for decades, was included in discussions on property rights and assisted in created a will, overcoming previous exclusion.

Another woman living with her family, uncertain about her disability allowance’s use, opted not to address financial control concerns with her family to preserve the relationship.

Initially planning to save for a concert ticket, a meeting with her family and advocate took an unexpected turn as relatives expressed discontent, leading the woman to forgo pursuing the matter.

“This example demonstrates the level of resistance and pressure that people often face in trying to exercise their financial autonomy,” the report stated.

In another case, a woman with Cerebral Palsy, sought the assistance of an NAS Advocate when new online security measures impeded her ability to independently access her online banking. The increased security measures posed challenges, requiring the woman to rely on staff for support, causing distress and a sense of lost financial autonomy.

The advocate, in collaboration with the woman, engaged with the local Branch Manager, but with no resolution, the issue was escalated to the bank’s internal complaints department and the Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland. A security specialist within the bank facilitated an SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) exemption, enabling her to regain control of her online banking and manage her financial affairs independently once again.

NAS Casebook 2023