Newsletter November 2010
Issued on November 1 2010
Our hopes and expectations for the coming years are outlined in DFI”s Budget 2011 Submission, while at the launch in the Mansion House we focussed on how actions taken now affect the disability sector long term. The decisions announced in the Budget and in the HSE”s 2011 Service Plan will affect the State”s capacity to support people with disabilities in five years, in 2016, and indeed in ten years, in 2021.
The National Disability Strategy (NDS), and the considerable investments that have been made on foot of it, cannot be allowed to wash away in the tide of deficit reductions. The Government needs to announce without further delay the long-promised NDS Recession Implementation Plan. This Plan can ensure that people with disabilities do not bear the brunt of fiscal stringency, and, equally important, the Plan can support the basic service infrastructure on which full citizenship for disabled people will be built when times improve. This Plan can galvanise the combined resources of the statutory sector along with the voluntary disability sector to support disabled people.
Currently the Government is busy planning in other areas, notably with its four year budget strategy. But unless such plans recognise and prioritise the disability dimension, Ireland will make decisions in tackling the immediate crisis that will diminish the commitment made to date in the NDS.
In the Croke Park Agreement the parties state that they are committed to excellence in service provision. The Agreement sets out the pay related / outcomes for public servants but no clear outcomes are set out public service provision. The Government”s role as employer seems to have superseded its role as guarantor of quality services to all citizens. Balance must be established, with the Agreement incorporating tangible service outcome benchmarks for disabled people on a year be year basis, in line with the NDS. The promise of excellence surely cannot mean anything less than services accessible to disabled citizens also.
We in the disability sector understand the perilous situation confronting Ireland, and that realistic planning is essential. We all have to reconsider what we do and how we do it if we are to survive to another, better, day. If the Government honours its commitment to people with disabilities, voluntary disability organisations can fully concentrate their efforts on working with the statutory organisations to ensure that disabled people and their families get the support they need and that we are all well positioned to make strong progress to complete the implementation of the NDS as growth returns.