Special Budget 2010 Edition Newsletter
Issued on December 1 2009
An Advocate for the Voluntary Disability Sector.
Supporting Organisations to Enable People with Disabilities
People with Disabilities face further Income and Services Cuts in 2010
Budget 2010 gave little indication that the Government intends to
“actively advance the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) throughout the recession”,
despite the commitment made in the renewed Programme for Government 2009. What is clear is that while “Ireland may be turning the corner to recovery” people with disabilities are facing additional income and services cuts.
DFI recognised that this Budget would be difficult for everyone, however, we were clear from the outset that people with disabilities should not experience a disproportionate level of hardship compared to other vulnerable groups. This is reinforced by the fact that one in three people with disabilities are already at risk of poverty. The Government”s announcement to cut disabled people”s income by €8.30 (4.1%) per week is a direct attack on the most vulnerable who for no fault of their own are dependent on the State for an adequate income. This is in addition to the 2% cut already made to disability payments through the abolishment of the Christmas bonus this year. There has been a clear acknowledgement that people with disabilities experience extra everyday costs arising from living with a disability; however, this appears to have been completely forgotten about in framing Budget 2010.
DFI believe that people with disabilities are highly dependent on very necessary health and personal social services. Disability services funding of €171m allocated by the Oireachtas to the
HSE has not been delivered since 2007 and we are now very fearful that the same will happen again. Voluntary disability organisations are already struggling to maintain services and announcements made in this budget are of no comfort.
The Minister for Health and Children needs to give specific instructions to the HSE in the 2010 Service Plan, to honour Government commitments to people with disabilities and to protect disability services from the €450m in health service cuts. Minister Harney has already stated that “she has sought to bring costs into line with what the Department can afford, rather than reducing services” . This is also a matter for the Oireachtas to insist that this happens. DFI will continue to lobby against further cuts to our sector and keep our members informed of developments in the health area. Information on the announcements made in Budget 2010 across Health and other departments is summarised in this special edition newsletter.
Innovation Funding of €3m to be used for De-Institutionalisation
Minister John Moloney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health announced that Innovation Funding of €3m has been provided in the 2010 HSE Vote in respect of disability and mental health. This funding will be allocated to The Person Centre, a non-profit organisation which has established a fund with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies to support transition from institutional to person-centred models of care in disability and mental health services. He further stated that proposals will be invited jointly by The Person Centre and the HSE from service providers who can deliver a quantified transition of service users from institutional to community settings on a cost-neutral basis, after the initial transitional period. All projects selected for funding will be subject to a full evaluation at the end of the transition period, thus maximising the learning for the system as a whole. While funding for the de-institutionalisation of people with disabilities is to be welcomed more information is required in terms of the “cost-neutral” element of this programme and the timeframe of the “transitional period”.
Inspection of Residential Facilities for Children with Disabilities
When the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Andrews published the implementation plan following the publication of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report, a commitment was made that the Health Act 2007 would be commenced to allow the Social Services Inspectorate in HIQA to implement an independent registration and inspection system for all residential services provided for children with disabilities. Funding is being provided in 2010 to proceed with the commitment which in respect of these children and the registration and inspection system will commence by the end of 2010. Minister for Disability and Mental Health announced that detailed proposals would also be brought to Government early in the New Year in respect of the protection of vulnerable adults with disabilities who are in residential services provided by or on behalf of the State. DFI are awaiting further clarification on details of the funding that will be available.
Multi-Annual Capital Programme Announced for Mental Health
DFI welcomes the announcement by John Moloney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health that Budget 2010 has provided for a multi-annual programme of capital investment in high priority mental health projects consistent with “A Vision for Change”.
Funding of the mental health capital programme will be raised from the proceeds of sales of mental health assets. In 2010 the HSE will proceed to dispose of such assets and invest an initial sum of €43m in the mental health capital programme. Provision for continued funding of the programme will be made in the 2011 Estimates and subsequent years, in the light of the previous year”s programme of asset sales. DFI acknowledges the assurance by the Minister to ensure the appointment of a National Lead on Mental Health within the HSE as important driver in the implementation of a “Vision for Change”. To-date mental health services have been grossly underfunded and this renewed commitment is considered to be a positive step to modernise the mental health services.
This funding is welcomed however it must also be considered within the context of adequate funding for mental health services to support people with mental ill-health in the community as a priority. Capital projects are not sufficient on their own to provide an adequate and sustainable service. Funding cuts to organisations that provide key services to people with mental ill-health undermines this process and threatens the implementation of the “Vision for Change”. Like many of the DFI members who have absorbed cuts in 2009, there is a significant risk that further cuts in 2010 will affect direct service delivery.
Prescription Charges (€15m in 2010 & €25m in a full year)
The number of items dispensed under the General Medicine Scheme (GMS) has increased from 35 million in 2004 to over 48 million in 2008. To address the rising costs in both the GMS and Long Term Illness Scheme, and to influence to some degree the demand and prescribing patterns, a 50 cent charge per prescription item is being introduced, subject to a monthly ceiling of €10 per family. New legislation is required to give effect to this co-payment and the expected implementation date is 1st April 2010. The charges are expected to raise €15m in 2010 and €25m in a full year.
These new rules demonstrate the lack of disability proofing that took place to plan Budget 2010. Given the nature of disability, it is likely that disabled people or families with a disabled member will be disproportionately affected by these charges. DFI believe that it will become yet another “cost of disability” that already vulnerable disabled people will have to incur. The result will be greater financial hardship and the risk of pushing more disabled people into poverty.
Increase in Drug Payment Scheme threshold (€27m)
The monthly threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme is being increased from €100 to €120 with effect from 1 January 2010. The Scheme ensures that individuals or families do not have to pay more than the monthly threshold on approved prescribed drugs, medicines and certain appliances. DFI is concerned that families with a disabled member or a person with a disability who is actively involved in the labour market will incur these charges to a greater extent than that of families or individuals with good health. It is an additional cost of disability not accounted for due to a lack of disability proofing at policy level.
Frontline Services to be Protected but Special Education Targeted Again
The Department of Education and Science decision to reduce the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) budget by €2.3 million (21% of budget) targets special education needs and demonstrates yet again the lack of commitment to implementing the EPSEN Act 2004.
DFI believe that children with disabilities have already been unfairly targeted by the closure of 128 special classes in 2009. This decision disproportionately affected some of the most vulnerable children in our society and was implemented without consideration of ongoing evaluation of the Special Needs Assistance being undertaken.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is the statutory body established under the EPSEN Act 2004. They were set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special education needs arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children. One of their main functions is to deliver a local service through a national network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who interact with parents and schools and liaise with the HSE in providing resources to support children with special educational needs. It is yet unclear as to how the €2.3 million will be cut and what services it may effect.
DFI does acknowledge and welcome that the provision for the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is being increased to provide for the rise in psychologists to 2010. This will allow NEPS psychologists to provide direct service to every first and second level school and an enhancement of service to special schools and units.
Rural Transport Programme Saved
DFI welcomes the decision to maintain the Rural Transport Programme despite recommendations laid out in the McCarthy Report to terminate the scheme. A total of €11 million has been committed for 2010. This type of community transport plays an important role in combating rural isolation and social exclusion. It is also a vital activator for disabled people ensuring that they can participate in the community and access services. It was further announced that in line with the commitment in the “ Renewed Programme for Government”, a series of studies are underway to evaluate how to better integrate rural transport services, including the Rural Transport Programme, Bus Eireann rural stage carriage services, health related and school transport services.
Additional Special Needs Social Housing announced in Budget 2010
Disability Federation Ireland has welcomed the announcement by Housing Minister Michael Finneran to commit additional resources in the provision of special needs accommodation to older people, the homeless and people with disabilities. A total of €145m has been allocated to the Capital Assistance Scheme to provide special needs housing and represents an increase of 30% on funding for 2009. The Capital Assistance Scheme is used by housing associations to provide much needed social housing, including sheltered and supported housing, for older people, people with disabilities and the homeless. DFI further welcomes the allocation of €80 million to local authorities in the provision of the Housing Adaptation Grants for older people and people with disabilities.
Disability Welfare Payments Slashed by 4.1%
Significant cuts have been made to welfare payments in Budget 2010 leaving disabled customers and carers very vulnerable and at risk of poverty. The weekly rate of Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Blind Welfare Allowance and Carers Allowance will be reduced from €204.30 to €196
from January 2010. Ironically, this comes at the wake of the EU Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion to be coordinated by the Office for Social Inclusion under the auspices of the Department for Social and Family Affairs.
The DSFA plays an important role in advancing the income support and social inclusion of people with disabilities. DFI had strongly argued against welfare cuts to disabled customers on the basis that their income would be disproportionately reduced compared to non-disabled customers. This is due to the additional costs of disability that are not yet compensated by the State. While an individual in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance can expect a reduced payment of €196, this amount will be further reduced for disabled customers who have extra costs associated with their disability. For instance, power wheelchairs need to be charged leading to higher electricity bills. People with disabilities can also have extra dietary or clothing requirements that eat into their welfare payments. The result is erosion in disability payments below that of the ordinary jobseeker.
DFI is disappointed by further cuts being implemented across Government Departments that will disproportionately impact on disabled customers in receipt of social welfare. It is obvious that little or no disability proofing took place in terms of planning for the Budget despite the calls of DFI and our member organisations across the Sector. The introduction of the carbon tax must be developed with disabled and older people in mind. The Minister did announce that a vouched fuel allowance scheme would be developed to offset the increases for low income families dependent on such fuels. It is critical that we lobby to ensure that this fuel allowance is adequate and set at a rate that will consider the needs of disabled people who require additional heating.
Employment remains the best route out of poverty however we recognise that this will not be a reality for many disabled people. Unemployment can often be a long-term consequence of having or acquiring a disability. DFI therefore argued that while activation measures must continue to be a priority, the Department needed to protect disabled customers income. This is in line with the Government commitment that “Every person with a disability would have access to an income which is sufficient to sustain an acceptable standard of living” (Towards 2016) and in the promise to continue implementing the National Disability Strategy in the Renewed Programme for Government.
DFI and our member organisations must now monitor how these cuts will affect the well-being of people with disabilities in the community. The diagram overleaf provides a snapshot of some of the cuts introduced through Budget 2010. We will endeavour to keep members abreast of further information on cuts to organisations and services.
Budget Cuts to People with Disabilities and their Families
DSFA – The following disability payments will be reduced by €8.30 per week (from January 2010):
- Illness Benefit
- Disability Allowance
- Blind Pension
- Injury Benefit
- Invalidity Pension (for people under 65)
The Department of Education and Science decision to reduce the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) budget by €2.3 million directly targets special education needs and demonstrates yet again the lack of commitment to implementing the EPSEN Act 2004.
Prescription Charge of 50 cent per item – A 50 cent charge per item subject to a month ceiling of €10 per family is being introduced for the GMS Scheme
Increase in Drugs Payment Scheme Threshold of €20 – The monthly threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme is being increased from €100 to €120.
- Carer”s Allowance will be reduced by €8.50 for claimants under 66 years of age.
- Half-rate Carer's Allowance will be reduced by €4.25 for claimants under 66 years of age. (January 2010).
- Carer”s Benefit and Constant Attendance Allowance will be reduced by €8.20 per week (January 2010).
Dental and Optical Benefit - In 2010, the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme and Optical Benefit Scheme will be limited to free dental and eyesight examinations. Other benefits previously available to those with adequate PRSI contributions will be discontinued.
For information please contact the relevant organisation directly.
Ability - Newsletter of the Irish Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, Tel: 01 4572329, E-mail: email@example.com
Arthritis Ireland - Newsletter—Tel: 01 661 8188 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aspire - Asperger Syndrome Association of Ireland. 01-8780027/9, E-mail: email@example.com
Asthma Society News - Tel: 01-8788511, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brainstorm - Migraine Association of Ireland, Tel: 01-8064121, E-mail: email@example.com
Brainwave - Quarterly Newsletter, Tel: 01 4557500, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Care Alliance Ireland - E-mail: email@example.com
Clar na nÓg - National Youth Council of Ireland Tel: 01-4784122 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cleft Lip and Palate Association of Ireland - www.cleft.ie/newsletter/index.htm , Tel: (01) 2848227, E-mail: email@example.com
Community Exchange Newsletter, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: +1 667 7326
Connect - Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association. E-mail: email@example.com , Freefone 1800 403 403
Community Workers” Co-operative – Community Work News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: +353 (0) 91 779 030
Cornerstone - Homeless Agency - http://www.homelessagency.ie/research/cornerstone.asp , Tel: 01 7036100 , E-mail: email@example.com
Cumhacht - People with Disabilities in Ireland http://www.pwdi.ie/news_events/newsletter/index.htm , E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: 01-8721744
Debra Ireland Newsletter, Tel: 01 678 5044, E-mail: email@example.com
Down Syndrome Ireland - Tel: 01-8730999, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enable Ireland - Newsletter—Tel: 1850 204 304 E-mail: email@example.com
Equality News - Tel: 01-4173333, E-mail:: firstname.lastname@example.org
E-Info Deaf Source— E-mail:: email@example.com . Tel: +353 1860 1878
Féach - Support to parents of blind and visually impaired children. Tel: 01 493 1896, E-mail:: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fighting Blindness - Tel: 01 7093050, E-mail: email@example.com
Frontline of Learning Disability -Tel: 01-2862649. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
GROWing - Information on Mental Health, Tel: 1890 474 474, E-mail: email@example.com
Guidelines - Irish Guide Dogs Association. Tel: 021 4878200 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Headway Ireland - National Association for Acquired Brain Injury -“Making Headway”, Tel: 01-8102066, E-mail: email@example.com
Heart News: - Newsletter of Irish Heart Foundation. Tel: 01 668 5001 E-mail:: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heartstrings - Newsletter of Heart Children Ireland, published quarterly, Tel: 1850 217017 E-mail: email@example.com
Heatwave - Irish Raynauds Scleroderma Society, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: 01 2020184
HOPE - Huntington”s Disease Association of Ireland. Tel: 01-872 1303, E-mail: email@example.com
Inclusion Ireland - Tel: 01 8559891, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish Deaf News - Irish Deaf Society. Minicom: 01-8601910; 01-8601878; E-mail: email@example.com
Irish Wheelchair Association - “Spokeout” , Tel: 01-8186 400, E-mail: Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerry Network of People with Disabilities - Network News 066-7180611, E-mail: email@example.com
MS News—Newsletter of MS Ireland. Tel: 01 6781600, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Muscular Dystrophy Ireland - MDI News Update Tel: 01-8721501, E-mail: email@example.com
DeafHear.ie - Link Magazine - Tel: 01 8723800, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Minicom: (01) 817 5777
NCBI News - Newsletter of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, Tel: 01 8307033, E-mail:: email@example.com , www.ncbi.ie
Neuro News - Neurofibromatosis Association of Ireland, Tel: 01-8726338, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
People First - Central Remedial Clinic Tel: 01-8057400 E-mail: email@example.com
Post Polio Support Group - Newsletter, Tel: 071 64791 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Poverty Today - Combat Poverty Agency. Tel:01-670 6746
Rehab News -Tel: 01-2057200 E-mail: email@example.com
Simon News - Simon Community, Tel: 01-6711606 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SI News - Schizophrenia Ireland, Tel: (0)1 8601620 E-mail: email@example.com
Social Housing - Irish Council for Social Housing Tel: 01-6618334; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonas aPc – Tel (01) 2608138. email@example.com / www.sonasapc.ie .
Speaking up for Advocacy – Citizens Information Board Newsletter on advocacy. Tel: 01 6059035, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Volunteer Stroke Scheme News- Tel: 01-4559036. E-mail:: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wheel E-Bulletin Tel:01- 454 8727, E-mail: email@example.com
Disability Federation of Ireland is a national support and representation mechanism for voluntary disability sector organisations, covering all areas of disability and disabling conditions. There are currently over 100 voluntary disability organisations in the DFI Membership
Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 454 7978
Fax: 01 494 7981
Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East, Wicklow (Dublin Office),
Tel: 01 708 0105
Mobile: 086 8206736
Dublin South City, Dublin South West, Dublin West, Kildare, West Wicklow (Dublin Office)
Tel : 01 425 0126
Mobile: 086 9189750
Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath (Dublin Office)
Mobile: 086 3882600
Support Officer – Policy and Research (Dublin Office)
Tel: 01 424 0127
Support Officer – Support for Organsiations (Dublin Office)
Meath, Louth, Cavan, Monaghan (Dublin Office)
Mobile: 086 3834587
Dublin North Central, Dublin North West, Dublin North
Galway, Mayo, Roscommon
C/O DFI, Acres, Newport, Co. Mayo,
Tel: 098 41919,
Mobile: 086 3804750,
Fax: 098 41065,
Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal
St. Vincent”s Business Park, Finisklin Road, Sligo
Mobile: 086 3811261
Limerick, North Tipperary, East Limerick, Clare
DFI, The Forge, Croke St. Thurles, Co Tipperary
Mobile: 086 6004526
Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford
DFI, Tinryland, Carlow
Tel: 059 9179431
Mobile: 086 3811064
101 North Main Street, Cork
Tel: 021 4271752 Mobile 086 3816323
E: a.ryan@disability-federation .
Minister Lenihan, Budget 2010
€170 million shortfall to disability services was calculated as follows:
- €53m of funds voted for disability and mental health services was not spent as reported in the Comptroller and Auditor General 2007 Annual Report.
- In 2008, a further €17 million of the Multi Annual Funding (MAF) commitment for that year was not spent.
- The Budget for 2009 allocated none of the €50 million that was due under MAF
- Funding to voluntary disability organisations was reduced by 3% in 2009, amounting to a loss of approximately €45 million.
- A specific commitment of €8.5 million to fund emergency places for people with disabilities in fact only yielded €3 million for the sector, with the rest diverted elsewhere in the HSE
The mental health capital programme is intended to provide a range of facilities across the entire spectrum of mental healthcare facilities including acute psychiatric units, child and adolescent units, day hospitals, community nursing units and high support hostels, and will provide the infrastructure necessary to enable its transformation into a patient-centred, flexible and community based mental health service, where the need for hospital admission is greatly reduced, whilst still providing in-patient care when appropriate.
Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004
Two evaluations are being conducted and include the Value for Money and Policy Review Audit of Special Needs Assistance and the Review of SNAs by the NCSE
Overall, €760 million of the overall €4 billion in cuts will come from the Department of Social and Family Affairs