Budget 2014 confirms that there is no coherent plan of action for people with disabilities

15th October 2013

Dublin

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) has expressed disappointment at the Government’s failure to protect and invest in people with disabilities and their families in Budget 2014. 

John Dolan, CEO of the DFI stated today “ Following on from comments by An Taoiseach last week, we were optimistic coming into this budget, that there would be some flexibility and adjustment in the Budget statement.  Recognition by the Taoiseach last week that people have had a really difficult time over the last number of years was most welcome.1 He also stated that the Cabinet was working on the fairest and most equitable budget possible.  However, there is little sign of this Budget being either fair or equitable for people with disabilities and their families.  The disability movement has been hit hard by harsh outcomes of previous budgets, the social infrastructure that exists to support them has been decimated and the initiatives announced today do too little to reverse that.  Yet again there has been no commitment from Government to support people with disabilities and their families.” 

He went on to say “The Government has made several commitments to people with disabilities and their families over the last few years.  There was the commitment made by both An Taoiseach and the Tánaiste prior to the General Election that disability was their number one social justice priority.  There are the disability commitments in the Programme for Government 2010. And, there was the publication last July of the National Disability Implementation Plan.  However, none of these commitments have been progressed in this budget.”

DFI welcomes some positive measures for people with disabilities and their families, including free GP care for under 5’s, €20m for community mental health services and additional funds for the housing adaptation grants. However we are disappointed to see the €113m savings from medical cards and the abolition of the telephone allowance. This Budget and Government policy in general fails to coherently integrate people with disabilities into public service reform.  This Budget again fails to meet people with disabilities ambition to live in the community with dignity and independence.

Mr Dolan continued, “Economic concerns have overtaken the social in this Budget. Although the two realms remain firmly linked in reality, failure to begin the restoration of supports and services for people with disabilities has further disconnected them in practice. We need to develop strategic and sustainable plans for social inclusion, but the measures revealed today have weakened that opportunity.”

He went on to say “Disability, chronic illness and mental health needs are experienced by individuals and families across the life course.  These people are all experiencing the effects of the on-going recession in addition to the challenges that they face related to their disability. Prioritising supports for this life contingency, given the existence of the implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy, is the most cost effective way of providing some ‘easing’ for people with disabilities and their families”.

He concluded, “We come out from under the IMF bailout yoke in December, while there is no commitment to underpinning the priority social justice issue of disability and mental health as stated by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore on the eve of the general election. People with disabilities and their families now clearly understand that government are not determined to keep their promise to them even now that we are out of the IMF bailout.” 

1Note to editor:  Copies of letters to An Taoiseach and the Tánaiste are copied below. 

ENDS 

For further information, please contact:

John Dolan, CEO 086 795 7467

Allen Dunne, Deputy CEO 086 850 2112 

 

Dear Taoiseach and Tánaiste,

I note the remarks made yesterday by An Taoiseach to the effect that there will be some “flexibility and adjustment” in the forthcoming Budget, and his recognition that people have had “a really difficult time over the last number of years”. We further note his statement this morning that the Cabinet was working on the “fairest and most equitable” budget possible.  DFI is optimistic and confident that this will provide tangible support for people with disabilities through Budget 2014.

This optimism is based on the following:

-       The commitment that you both made prior to the General Election to disability being your number one social justice priority.

-       The disability commitments that are in your programme for government.

-       The publication last July of the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan.

Disability, chronic illness and mental health needs are experienced by individuals and families across the life course and amongst all people who also experience the effects of the on-going recession. Prioritising supports for this life contingency, given the existence of the implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy, is the most cost effective and prioritised way of providing some easing as is your expressed intention in keeping with your overarching social justice priority.

In focussing on these areas you are giving practical support and confidence to all in the community that this major contingency and worry is being effectively addressed by Government.

What could be more fair, equitable and effective than to cluster your resources around the greatest contingency that faces every person and family in Ireland and one that is the everyday reality for 600,000 people and their families?

We look forward to Government targeting the “flexibility” that it has achieved for this critical societal issue which affects everyone at some time throughout life.

Yours sincerely,

John Dolan,

Chief Executive Officer

 

 

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