Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI) has expressed disappointment at the Government’s failure to protect and invest in people with disabilities and their families in Budget 2014.
The Donegal-based chairman of SBHI Frank Larkin SBHI said following on from comments by An Taoiseach last week, they were optimistic coming into this budget.
“We were hopeful 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. 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.”
“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.”
SBHI 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 they 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.
“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.”
“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”.
In conclusion, “We come out from under the IMF bailout 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.”