DFI Seriously Concerned about Protection of Services to People with Disabilities
December 7 2012
7th December 2012
The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) learned today from the Ministers Lynch's Office that savings of €5m (0.3 of 1% of Disability Budget) will have to be found through shared services, procurement and other initiatives amongst Disability Service Providers and Organisations. Furthermore, in Budget 2013 Government has committed to maintain Personal Assistant (PA) Services at 2012 Service Plan levels.
Despite these commitments the Department does acknowledge that the savings required globally from the Health Budget of €750 million will have an impact on all services across the HSE, including disability services, and the impact that this will have on the funding to disability services will be outlined in detail in the HSE Service Plan due to be published in the coming weeks.
In response, Mr. Dolan, CEO, stated “We welcome Minister Lynch's efforts to curtail the impact of the cuts in Budget 2013 on disability services. However, the disability budget in the HSE continues to be vulnerable to decisions yet to be made through the Service Plan on how to achieve the €750 m savings required.”
Fresh in people’s minds is the experience of 2012, especially when key government budget plans failed to materialise; deficits mounted, and in the summer the Department of Health named cuts to services for people with disabilities. At the same time funds dedicated to mental health and other disability services were shifted to reduce the ballooning deficit incurred in other parts of the health system.
In relation to the income of people with disabilities, Mr. Dolan acknowledges the maintenance of disability benefit levels in Budget 2013. However, he highlighted that, “the impact of a number of other measures that increase charges or reduce existing supports will, in DFI’s view, reduce the standard of living of many people with disabilities and make it even harder for them to live independently with a degree of dignity. These cuts impact across everyday living and cumulatively they further raise the costs of living with a disability. Research has shown that people with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty and that households headed by a person with a disability are three times more likely to do so.”
“Budget 2013 has affected people with disabilities in a wide variety of ways, including the following:
- The annual Respite Care Grant has been reduced from a rate of €1,700 in 2012 to €1,375 for 2013.
- The deep cuts to the Household Benefits Package will directly affect people with disabilities as they often have additional costs in the areas of electricity, gas and telephone.
- The prescription charge for medical card holders has tripled from 50c to €1.50 per item. This measure will greatly affect people with chronic conditions and disabilities in need of monthly medication.
- The Drug Payment Scheme threshold has increased by 44% since 2010 where it was just €100. Budget 2013 announced yesterday another increase to €144. Families with a disabled child/adult not covered by the Long-Term Illness Scheme or Medical Card will be hardest hit.
John Dolan went on to say, “Although identified as the social justice priority by the Government’s leaders, many households with disabled family members are being hit hard yet again by this ‘National Recovery Programme’. People with disabilities expect to be able to pursue ordinary lives like everyone else, but the cumulative cutbacks on income and service supports over the last five years have instead severely curtailed their lives.”
Mr. Dolan concluded, “Although disability benefit levels have been maintained people with disabilities income will be greatly affected by this Budget. There are continued threats of cuts to vital disability services. We call on Government to ensure that the HSE Service Plan follows through on protecting access to services for people with disabilities. Furthermore the level of need and number of people with disabilities is growing”.
For contact: John Dolan, CEO, 086-7957467
Allen Dunne, Dep CEO, 086-8502112