DFI Urges Government To Take Action On Disability  Following Its Mid-Term Review

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Press Release

Dublin, Friday 27th December

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is seeking the appointment of a Senior Minister for Disability Inclusion following its Mid-Term Review of the Programme for Government, published today.

Since the onset of the recession in 2008, HSE funding for disability services has dropped by €159.1 million, representing a 9.4% reduction in spending at a time when need for these services is increasing.  Meanwhile, people in receipt of the Disability Allowance have endured cuts of almost 8% to the payment, resulting in a loss of over €847 to their annual income.  Substantial changes to essential services and supports, such as the adjustments to medical card eligibility, a €60 million loss to the Housing Adaption Grant since 2010, the €325 (19%) cut to the Respite Care Grant in 2013 and the five-fold increase to prescription charges since 2010, have rendered further significant impacts on the everyday lives of people with disabilities.

While DFI recognises that these measures represent the cumulative effects of an on-going recession, since its appointment in 2011, this Government has not done enough to address the situation.  Chief Executive of the organisation, John Dolan, stated, “during their pre-election debates, both Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore named disability as the key social justice issue they would focus on in office.  To date, these statements remain much more robust than the commitments contained and acted upon in the Programme for Government; there has been too little evidence of Government and public services working as a collective entity to support and invest in the inclusion of people with disabilities.  Disability can affect anyone at any stage in life; high-quality, sustainable services and supports for people with disabilities and a whole-of-government approach to providing them are therefore essential.”

DFI has conducted a critique of the promises, commitments and delivery of the Programme for Government, which is now halfway through its five-year term.  In light of its findings, the organisation is urging Government to act on three over-arching goals: the appointment of a Senior Minister with dedicated responsibility for disability inclusion; the prioritising of the funding of disability services, in line with these pre-election commitments; and the implementation of agreed measures, targets and timelines for disability.

Mr Dolan explained, “the Programme for Government committed to ensuring that the quality of life of people with disabilities is enhanced and that allocated resources reach the people who need them.  However, Government has failed to translate its strategies into meaningful action. Our three goals for Government reflect the promises made in 2011 and ensure a collaborative effort to achieving full equality for people with disabilities.  We are asking Government to appoint a Senior Minister for Disability Inclusion to oversee the inclusion of people with disabilities in the reform of public services, and to target funding at healthcare and community-based services and supports which promote the independence and quality of life for people with disabilities; the appointment of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs provides a precedent for such reform.  Implementing these measures will kick-start the overdue introduction of long-term plans for the improvement and sustainability of supports and services for people with disabilities”.

He concluded, “People with disabilities face a number of challenges in their ordinary, daily lives; mid-way through its Programme for Government, progress on our leaders’ commitment to improving their quality of life has been too slow.  Government needs to focus on integrating disability inclusion into public service reform and ultimately prove its ambition to accomplish full inclusion for people with disabilities”.

ENDS.

For more information, contact

John Dolan, Chief Executive of DFI                           086 795 7467

Allen Dunne, Deputy Chief Executive of DFI        086 850 2112

 

Notes for editors

  • Figures for drop in HSE funding for disability services based on €1,694.1 million net expenditure on these services in 2008 (Value for Money report, 2012) and the projected €1,535 million spend for 2013 (according to the National Service Plan 2013)
  • Disability Allowance has fallen by €16.30 per week (€204.30 in Budget 2009; €188 in Budget 2014)
  • The Housing Adaption Grant stood at €94 million in 2010, compared to €35 million in 2013
  • The Respite Care Grant was cut from €1700 to €1375 in Budget 2013
  • The prescription charge was introduced in Budget 2010 at €0.50 per item, increased to €2.50 per item in Budget 2014

Please click here for DFI Document - Promises, Commitments, and Delivery: Mid-Term Review of the Programme for Government - http://www.disability-federation.ie/index.php?uniqueID=10792

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