Budgett 2016 Special Newsletter
Issued on November 4 2015
DFI are bitterly disappointed and deeply concerned about Budget 2016 and Government policy in general as it does not show a comprehensive ambition to resolve the poverty and exclusion experienced by people with disabilities.
There is some long-awaited relief to people with disabilities and their families in some areas. We acknowledged the restoration of the Respite Care Grant, the partial restoration of the Christmas Bonus, investment of €15 million for early childhood education for children with disability, the investment in social housing, and the increase in the home carer tax credit, all which will be of assistance to people with disabilities and their families. However, this Budget does not go far enough to demonstrate that Government is committed to give people with disabilities and their families a serious start to a life of inclusion and hope.
The Budget is as much about the provision of accessible public services as it is about having sufficient income. A huge focus again this year has been on how better off people will be in relation to their income situation. We estimate that around 40,000 people and families will face disability for the first time over the year ahead. Their critical need will be for timely and accessible public and social services along with sufficient income. The negligible extra income as a result of tax changes will not nearly support them, while access to appropriate social services in a timely fashion will continue to be a major problem following this Budget.
There are some 600,000 people with disabilities in Ireland and there has been no move to attack the extra costs of disability or measures that would drive activation towards employment, even though the Government launched an employment strategy for people with disabilities recently. There are to be 48,000 more people at work next year according to Minister Noonan, while Minister Howlin stated that the best weapon against poverty is a decent job. This Budget is not likely to lead to employment for anyone with a disability over the coming year. Inequality, poverty, and deprivation are therefore going to rise for people with disabilities. We are frustrated that people with disabilities can only expect an incremental restoration of funding from previous budget cuts, however there has been no implementation of measures to make the current reality of poverty and exclusion a thing of the past. How are people with disabilities and their families to take confidence and have hope that they can play a real part in the life of their community?
Another worrying development is the lack of clarity and transparency in relation to the figures for the overall adjustment to be made in Budget 2016. It is also true to say that electoral concerns for the current government parties have overtaken the social agenda in this budget.
This Government came into office committed to disability as their first social justice priority. That commitment has not been honoured to date and this Budget has sadly not changed that. Nowhere does it show ambition to tackle in a systematic way the continuing reality of poverty and exclusion that is part of daily life for people with disabilities and their families. Nowhere does it give hope for a life of participation and equal inclusion. Government has continued to renege on its commitment. This Budget was heralded as the first in a series of restorative budgets yet there is no sign that Government is using it to commence an ambitious approach to implementing the National Disability Strategy.