Newsletter December 2010
Issued on December 1 2010
Where disability and disabling conditions exist, they do so together with the other pressures and vulnerabilities that individuals and families face in a recession. Disability can be experienced from childhood into old age, and it is something that individuals and families cannot protect themselves from or provide for through insurance or other means. The State has to be the underwriter, and that is what the National Disability Strategy is about. The forthcoming Budget, we are told, will bring funding cuts to services and to the income supports of disabled people. It funding cuts of the order of 7% for HSE funded disability services, and more in some cases, will have a devastating effects in the year ahead, given the pressures from expanding need.
Current funding needs to stay in place to ensure capacity to provide for existing and growing need. The focus instead needs to be on the early implementation of efficiency measures, and changes in the way services and supports are provided. This relates both to services provided directly by the HSE and those services provided by disability organisations. Let us then see where things are at this time next year. It must also be understood that disabled people and their families are not protected from the wide spread cuts to services and reduction in living standards that are generally taking place. We know the HSE will only implement a policy of prioritisation of services to disabled people if they are expressly instructed to do so by the Minister for Health and Children, as part of the process to put the HSE service plan in place.
Over a year ago the two Government parties made a commitment, in their “Renewed Programme for Government”, that they would “prioritise the interests of people with disabilities and actively advance the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) throughout the recession”. To implement that commitment they would produce an “NDS Recession Implementation Plan”. To date that has not happened, yet in the past eight weeks a four year budget strategy went from conception to production, and implementation will commence with the Budget.
Government needs to act now to put in place the NDS Recession Implementation Plan and prioritise disability and mental health across key areas, such as health, education and social protection. Government knows, and we know, that they can create and implement strategies in a matter of weeks. Now is the time to ensure that people will not be alone in dealing with the added impact of disability through this recession.
John Dolan CEO