October 2009 Newsletter
Issued on October 1 2009
To date there is no evidence available to DFI that Ministers and Secretaries Generals of the Departments are approaching Budget 2010 from the perspective that the NDS is a Government priority and that new and innovative ways need to be deployed to protect and advance the Strategy. We have no reassurance that people with disabilities, their families and carers are not going to bear the brunt of the continuing fiscal readjustment that is required. Yes public service workers are very fearful that they will suffer further pay cuts. That fear for workers is real. The reality for disabled people, largely never employed, is that the Budget will further reduce their income supports on top of the withdrawal of the Christmas Bonus and that basis and necessary health and social services will be further eroded. An Bord Snip Nua is suggesting massive cuts in health and social welfare.
Government made a policy choice, made a policy commitment, to deliver a national disability strategy. It is clearly more difficult for Government to deliver now but deliver it must. The review of the Agreed Programme for Government will be critical to this end. If Government understands and continues to appreciate what the NDS was about, namely providing the wherewithal for disabled people to be free and equal citizens in this State then they know how they must prioritise and what they must prioritise.
Protecting the NDS and ensuring that it is progressed during the recession is a practical way to give expression to the Governments commitment to protect the vulnerable in that it is targeted at people who are vulnerable, who cross all sections of the lifecycle from childhood to old age, where there is strong community support and sentiment, where there are allies across the voluntary disability sector, where so much has been invested to date in developing the Strategy, where the expectations of disabled people have rightly been raised and where valuable social infrastructure will be lost if we don't all find a way to keep moving forward.
Yes Government has a responsibility to ensure that we have a properly functioning banking system and it is investing heavily to ensure this. It equally has responsibility to ensure that disabled people, and others, have access to necessary health and social services. We have witnessed Governments efforts to protect the banking infrastructure. Budget 2010 must bring forward measures to protect the social infrastructure for disabled people and their families throughout this deepening recession.