Disability Federation of Ireland Pre-Budget Submission 2014
Issued on October 14 2013
DFI views the Budget as the Government’s expression of its priorities for the coming year. In this regard, we are recommending that the Government:
- Protects the basic standard of living of people with disabilities. This means recognising the extra costs that people with disabilities incur living in one’s home, in maintaining one’s health, accessing education, and employment and in travel.
- Introduces no more cuts to disability services and prioritises investment in community living.
- Prioritises investment in public services to make them appropriate and accessible for people with disabilities including health, education, employment transport, and housing services.
After five years of cumulative, stringent measures, where social inclusion outcomes for people have become less of a priority than financial outcomes, we consider that the time is long overdue to rebalance the Government’s recovery programme. We cannot accept the reduction of the government deficit as a marker of success, when it is at the expense of a damaged social infrastructure, and the creation of further inequalities in society. People with disabilities over the past number of years have been greatly affected by cuts in health services in particular. As many different public bodies, and not the Department of Health alone fund aspects of the social infrastructure that supports people with disabilities, it is essential that the overall, cumulative impact of budget decisions is explicitly considered.
Government’s stated policy for tackling poverty and social exclusion focuses on three interconnecting themes, income supports, activation, and access to services. 
We know that people with disabilities are disadvantaged on poverty and social inclusion indicators and experience barriers relating to accessing health and education services, and in labour market activation. It is not satisfactory that this should persist in 2013. Instead of tackling this problem, we have seen a steady ‘chipping away’ at the services and supports which form part of the social infrastructure that allows people to live ordinary lives in their communities.
The ‘chipping away’ at both disability specific and mainstream supports over the past year represents a complete lack of understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities trying to live an ordinary life with health and well-being. These include the reduction in HSE funding for disability services, cuts to the Housing Adaptation Grant schemes, reductions in Special Needs Assistance in schools, targeting of the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant, reduction in number of Personal Assistance and Home Support hours available, cuts in the Household Benefits Package, increased prescription charges, increase in the threshold of the Drugs Payment Scheme, rolling back of free GP care for people with certain illnesses and reduction in the Respite Care Grant. In addition as people with disabilities still face many barriers to participation in education and employment, we must ensure that labour market activation measures are open to those in receipt of disability payments. Human rights and social inclusion should not become the collateral damage of this recession.
Ireland is soon to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). We must remember that the objectives of the UNCRPD cannot be adequately implemented without the necessary resources and structures. In this regard, the commitment in the Programme for Government was to have a National Disability Strategy in place by May 2012.
The Government must end its contradictory policy of on the one hand having national policy objectives that support community living for people with disabilities, and on the other, implementing continued cuts in funding and administrative practices that undermine community based approaches to services for people with disabilities. The on-going dismantling of the existing community and social infrastructure makes no sense in the context of the Government’s own policy objectives.
The inconsistent approach of supporting austerity measures, while at the same time aspiring to be socially inclusive is not working. The danger of following this approach, where community services and supports are being depleted represents a regression towards the traditional and out dated model of disability services. Departments should make all efforts to avoid this from happening in their decision making on expenditure and savings. Innovative, quality services and supports should not be targeted in this budget. Equally, a longer term approach to service planning is required that is evidence based, underpinned by social justice priorities, and not solely focused on efficiencies.
The Programme for Government 2011 stated that: ‘By the end of our term in Government Ireland will be recognised as a modern, fair, socially inclusive and equal society supported by a productive and prosperous economy’. Now is the time for the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to fulfil their commitment in the Programme for Government to an Implementation Plan for the National Disability Strategy, and to their identification of people with disabilities as their social justice priority  .
 National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007 – 2016.
 Leaders Debate on Prime Time, Tuesday 22 nd February 2011. Transcript available at: http://www.disability-federation.ie/index.php?uniqueID=10291
DISABILITY IN IRELAND: SOME FACTS AND FIGURES.
(Updated June 2013)
Disability happens more than you imagine:
People with Disabilities are more likely to experience poverty 2:
People with Disabilities have poorer educational outcomes 4:
Disability affects a person’s employment opportunities:
- Census 2011, Small Area Population Statistics www.cso.ie .
- CSO (2013) Survey on Income and Living Conditions. http://www.cso.ie
- Cullinan, J., Gannon, B. and Lyons, S. (2010) ‘Estimating the Extra Cost of Living for People with Disabilities’, Health Economics.
- Watson, D & Nolan, B. (2011) A Social Profile of People with Disabilities. ESRI and Department of Social Protection
EXAMPLES OF CUTS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES SINCE 2008 (updated June 2013).
Health / Individual Supports
Revenue and Tax Credits
Health / Disability Services
 DFI carried out a sample review of 25 organisations’ accounts lodged with the Companies Registration Office. Contact DFI for more information on this research.