Budget Cuts Further Undermine the Independence of Disabled People

After the devestating levels of cuts being imposed upon disabled people in the first day of the delivery of Budget 2012, the Disability Federation Ireland has issued the following press release (reproduced in full below):

Speaking from the Disability Federation Ireland, Chief Executive John Dolan expressed deep concern over the cuts to social protection measures and services to people with disabilities introduced today through Budget 2012. 

“We appreciate the difficult decisions that this government has to make”, he said.  “However basic income of people with disabilities was already substantially cut in 2011 and now this government is targeting income support for young people with disabilities up to 24 years and wider secondary benefits that enable this vulnerable group to live in their communities”.

“While the Department has introduced these measures to bring consistency across all age groups in receipt of social welfare, the reality is that young disabled people on disability allowance are excluded from all the activation programmes announced to-date from this same Department.  This is despite the fact that a recent survey published by the ESRI and Office for Social Inclusion found that two thirds of this group were willing to work with the correct supports”.

Mr. Dolan went on to say that, “the cumulative impact of the cuts announced today will seriously undermine the gains made in recent years to work towards putting disabled people on an equal footing.  In parallel to this the reductions of disability funding in health, along with the decrease in staff numbers, will also have a serious impact on people’s day to day lives”.

“In particular those already struggling with high costs of disability will now face a number of extra costs introduced across a range of government departments including an increase the drugs payment scheme, as well as a reduction in fuel allowance from 32 to 26 weeks, changes to rent allowance and the introduction of the household charge”.

The most recent statistics released from the CSO last week revealed that consistent poverty experienced by people with disabilities increased from 8.8% in 2009 to 13.0% in 2010. 

John Dolan did acknowledge the commitment to multi-annual budgeting announced today by Minister Howlin, T.D

However, he reiterated the need for this “to stop the erosion of funding for much needed disability services that has occurred since 2008”. 

If this Government is truly commitment to the achievement of social solidarity as stated in the Programme for Government and reiterated today by Minister Howlin, the cumulative impact of budget cuts on disabled people must be redressed.

http://www.disability-federation.ie