Newsletter Budget 2012 Special
Issued on December 1 2011
The full impact of Budget 2012 as of yet cannot fully be realised. However, we welcomed the Taoiseachs move to pause the decision to cut the disability allowance for young people until a review by the chairperson of the Commission on Social Welfare and Taxation takes place. We encourage Government to consider the proposed cut to people”s income in terms of what people with disabilities really need, that is greater equality of outcome.
However, despite the decision to pause the cuts to the income of people with disabilities, we fear that these same people continue to be targeted in terms of significant cuts to their services. We are hearing from across the HSE that they are exploring cuts of around 5%. Such a level would be unsustainable, as it comes on top of four years of successive cuts to these services at a time when there is increasing need.
It is appreciated that until the National Service Plan for the HSE is signed off by the Department a definitive decision on the cuts has not yet been made. While we are in the intervening period, and there is still time for pre decision making reflection each organisation should take this opportunity to contact your local representatives, urging them to consider the impact that further cuts to disability services will have on people with disabilities. They must be reminded that
- As this is the first of four austerity budgets, a 5% cut would be unsustainable
- Furthermore, people with disabilities and mental health make up the general population and so are well exposed to the general cuts taking place across all families and communities. Any specific cuts to income supports and services to disabled people announced through Budget 2012 will come on top of the cuts already made for people in general. People with disabilities will also be subject to the increase in the drugs payment scheme threshold, the introduction of the universal household charge, the increase in the minimum contribution required from those on rent supplement, along with carrying the general impact that the increase of VAT by 2% will have on their disposable income.
There is general acceptance that people with disabilities incur extra ordinary costs, in their day to day living expenses in terms of special clothing and foods and increase heating costs for instance. The cumulative impact of the cuts announced in Budget 2012 will further exacerbate the day to day difficulties experienced by people with disabilities and the threat of falling into consistent poverty.
It is critical that we take this opportunity to also remind our elected representatives that attention needs to be paid to the potential that organisations have to positively influence and support local communities, families and people with disabilities, and the health services in ways that bolster health and wellbeing. Voluntary disability organisations have in the past been pioneers, working tirelessly to ensure that accessible public and private transport, accessible housing and public buildings and facilities were made available to people with disabilities, along with seeking increased income supports and supports for carers. They have taken the issues to a range of government departments and public bodies to get necessary improvements in areas such as education and training / employment. They routinely, through fundraising and otherwise, secure other resources for the benefit of people to live in the community. Without the work of these organisations, together with the support that they enlist from the public, the burden on health and social services would be much higher and the outcomes way more modest. These organisations should now be seen as a major part of the solution to the continuing difficulties that the State faces in the years to come.
Therefore, although the full impact of Budget 2012 as of yet cannot fully be realised, what is clear is that people with disabilities have been asked to carry too great a part of the burden. If this Government is truly committed to the achievement of social solidarity, as stated in the Programme for Government and reiterated by Minister Howlin in the Oireachtas Chamber on the day of the Budget, Monday 5th of December, Government Departments and agencies should not be allowed to make unilateral decisions that further target vulnerable groups. DFI will continue to engage with Government, its departments and agencies reminding them that the decisions that they make today will have real, devastating impacts on the quality of life for people with disabilities well past the lifetime of this Government.
These are the issues that we all face for 2012. For now, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas, and DFI looks forward to working with you all in the New Year.