DFI's response to Budget 2024: Devastating sidelining of disabled people

October 10 2023, 05:00pm

DFI Budget 2024 quote 1

Responding to Budget 2024, the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI), has said it is devastating to see the sidelining of disability and the tokenistic attitude to disabled people in Budget 2024, against a backdrop of indefinite strike action in Section 39-funded disability services from 17 October. 

WATCH John's video response here 

John Dolan, CEO of DFI, said, “The measures introduced today do not come close to meeting the needs of people with disabilities. It is difficult to understand how the cost of disability payment, acknowledged and introduced for the first time in Budget 2023 at €500, has not been continued. Minister McGrath said last year 'it is important that we acknowledge that persons living with a disability face additional costs.' These costs were acknowledged in the Indecon Report, and the recent Green Paper, at €8,700 to €12,300 per year and yet there are no such cost of disability measures in Budget 2024. 

“Along with other anti-poverty organisations we had called for a €27.50 increase in core social protection rates to keep up with inflation and prevent a rise in inequality and poverty. Although the Minister referenced inflation, the increase announced today falls significantly short at €12. 

Addressing the upcoming strike action, John said, "It occurs to me that there is a particular cruelty in letting disabled people and their families endure this unnecessary strike to already inadequately funded services. It should not have come to this!

"The non-reversal of deep cuts to pay and services during the recession, which ended in 2013, is not news to government. This situation has been festering for over a decade and it is compounded by a crisis where staff are leaving to simply move to the HSE and elsewhere to get the government agreed pay and conditions. Consequently, services to disabled people are being further restricted and downgraded on a daily basis for some time.  

"The government knows what needs to happen to properly resolve this crisis in critical services that disabled people and their families depend on."

"How are disabled people supposed to feel today about this downgrading and tokenistic attitude towards them? The Government has had four Budgets now in which to keep the promise they made in their Programme for Government:

"We are now serious about making a difference – a difference that will make things better." 

"While our domestic economy grows and our finances are in good health, the current social protection model keeps thousands of disabled people in poverty. Ireland is also at the bottom of the EU league table in relation to disability employment rates. Disabled people are caught between a rock and a hard place and they now face an income cliff edge in 2024." 

WATCH Dr Emer Begley on Budget 2024 

“DFI had called for a range of interwoven measures in Budget 2024 to ensure disabled people have equal access to live independently in the community, with choices equal to others (Article 19, UN CRPR). Appropriate housing, adequate income and individualised social care supports (with access to timely integrated healthcare) will prevent unnecessary admission to nursing homes and go some way in achieving this. 

"This Budget seems to be about giving something to everyone, but not nearly enough to those with disabilities - those who need it most, as highlighted by the Government's own research." 

John concluded, "We are looking for further clarity on the funding allocation for specialist community disability services, which this year, for the first time, will come from the Department of Children Equality Disability Integration and Youth. This was mentioned in the budget announcement as a €64 million allocation, far short of the funding requirements outlined in the government’s Disability Capacity Review (€1 billion additional funding required for disability services by 2032). We await further clarity on the health budget, including mental health budget announcement which lacked detailed. We will respond in due course.

"We also continue to await publication of the Disability Action Plan 2024-2026 which is long overdue."  

CSO 2022 SILC data shows that: 

  • One in five (19.7%) people unable to work due to disability live in consistent poverty. This is almost four times higher than the national average (5.3%).
  • People unable to work due to disability have the second highest at risk of poverty rate at 35.2%, compared to the national average of 13.1%.
  • People unable to work due to disability have a much higher risk of living in deprivation, with one in two people (44.3%) living in deprivation, compared to the national average of 17.7%.

Cost of Disability vs Disability Allowance: 

  • The average annual extra cost of living with a disability is between €8,700 and €12,300 (see below for more info).
  • These figures were calculated based on data from 2020 and earlier years, so predate the current cost of living crisis.
  • The annual means tested income provided by Disability Allowance in 2022 is €11,440.

Indecon Cost of Disability Report 

Indecon International Consultants were commissioned by the Department of Social Protection to carry out research into the cost of disability in Ireland in 2019. Their report was published by the Department in December 2021. The report established that disabled individuals live with extra costs ranging from €8,700 - €12,300 per year, as well as extra unaffordable costs for items and areas of expenditure that they could not afford, averaging €2,706 a year.