Newsletter Budget Special
Issued on December 1 2010
Now is not the time for the Government to run "at half mast" in relation to its commitment to a National Disability Strategy. The recession is no excuse for failing to meet commitments to disabled people. The Government has put a plan in place to deal with the banking collapse and, more recently, to deal with our deficit. Government committed, over a year ago, "to prioritise the interests of people with disabilities and draw up a Plan to actively advance the implementation of the National Disability Strategy throughout the recession". That plan is still not agreed by Government despite calls from DFI since the Supplementary Budget of April 2009.
Disability is something that individuals and their families cannot insure against. In this sense the National Disability Strategy is the State underwriting against that need and the commitment to prioritise disability is to be seen as a comfort and support to the general community in these very difficult times.
The recession has thrown up opportunities, as well as challenges, to achieve change in a cost-effective manner while progressing the inclusion of people with disabilities in day to day life. We have to find ways to deliver more with less. There is a growing need for services, recession or no recession. While Ireland is experiencing difficult economic times, it is essential that the impetus of the National Disability Strategy is maintained, and that disability remains high on the Government agenda.
The €8 per week cut in income supports, as announced in the Budget, is a "serious blow to disabled people and their families". Government has long acknowledged that people with disabilities have extra costs in relation to their ordinary day-to-day living on items such as food, heating, clothing, and transport. DFI is very concerned that more and more people with disabilities are receding into poverty and away from inclusion.
This further cut comes on top of the 6% cut last year, and is again being made on means-tested income. It must be remembered that disabled people are subject to cuts in general, and to the extra demands being made on their income. There is no evidence in this Budget of overall protection of this vulnerable group, and the consequence of this is that more disabled people will experience poverty. This is something that DFI will fight against throughout 2011.
The maximum cut of 1.8% to the disability and mental health budgets came as a great relief in the context of the overall cut of 5% to the health budget. From the statement by Minister Moloney on the 3 rd of December (International Disability Day), which set out the key themes emerging from the Value for Money process, it is clear that organisations need to start the year by implementing changes that will give better value for money in the context of ensuring person centred services. While funding is decreasing we well know that the demand and need for services is increasing. That is the challenge for the year ahead.
Chief Executive Officer