Budget Special Newsletter
Issued on December 15 2012
The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) has learned that savings of €5m (0.3 of 1% of Disability Budget) will have to be found through shared services, procurement and other initiatives amongst Disability Service Providers and Organisations. Furthermore, in Budget 2013 Government has committed to maintain Personal Assistant (PA) Services at 2012 Service Plan levels.
Despite these commitments the Department does acknowledge that the savings required globally from the Health Budget of €750 million will have an impact on all services across the HSE, including disability services, and the impact that this will have on the funding to disability services will be outlined in detail in the HSE Service Plan due to be published in the coming weeks.
DFI has broadly welcomed Minister Lynch's efforts to curtail the impact of the cuts in Budget 2013 on disability services. However, the disability budget in the HSE continues to be vulnerable to decisions yet to be made through the Service Plan on how to achieve the €750 m savings required.
Fresh in people”s minds is the experience of 2012, especially when key government budget plans failed to materialise; deficits mounted, and in the summer the Department of Health named cuts to services for people with disabilities. At the same time funds dedicated to mental health and other disability services were shifted to reduce the ballooning deficit incurred in other parts of the health system.
In relation to the income of people with disabilities, DFI acknowledges the maintenance of disability benefit levels in Budget 2013. However, the impact of a number of other measures that increase charges or reduce existing supports will, in DFI”s view, reduce the standard of living of many people with disabilities. These cuts impact across everyday living and cumulatively they further raise the costs of living with a disability. Budget measures of particular concern include:
- The annual Respite Care Grant has been reduced from a rate of €1,700 in 2012 to €1,375 for 2013.
- The deep cuts to the Household Benefits Package will directly affect people with disabilities as they often have additional costs in the areas of electricity, gas and telephone.
- The prescription charge for medical card holders has tripled from 50c to €1.50 per item. This measure will greatly affect people with chronic conditions and disabilities in need of monthly medication.
- The Drug Payment Scheme threshold has increased by 44% since 2010 where it was just €100. Budget 2013 announced yesterday another increase to €144. Families with a disabled child/adult not covered by the Long-Term Illness Scheme or Medical Card will be hardest hit.
Although disability benefit levels have been maintained people with disabilities income will be greatly affected by this Budget. There are threats of further cuts to vital disability services in the Service Plan. Moreover the level of need and number of people with disabilities is growing. DFI is calling on Government to ensure that the HSE Service Plan follows through on protecting access to services for people with disabilities.
Chief Executive Officer