Budget concern for people with disabilities

  • Deborah Condon

People with disabilities in Ireland feel ‘increasingly disenfranchised' by the Government, following five years of cutbacks and austerity measures, Inclusion Ireland has said.

Inclusion Ireland is the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, and it has joined with Irish Autism Action (IAA) and Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) to call on the Government to stop cutting services for people with disabilities.

Over 150,000 people in Ireland have an intellectual disability and/or autism.

In a pre-Budget submission, the three organisations insisted that those affected have been hit by ‘an avalanche of accumulated cuts over the last five years'.

"Longer waiting lists, reductions in services, and additional charges have increased significantly under this Government. Not all cuts make headlines, but many of these measures are creating huge stress and strain and pushing people with a disability further away from their local communities and increasing their dependence on services," they said.

The pre-Budget submission identifies four key Government departments ‘whose decisions have an enduring effect on people with a disability and their families'.

"Each operates independently of the other but the impact of their decisions is accumulative," explained Inclusion Ireland CEO, Paddy Connolly.

These are the Departments of Social Protection, Health, Education and Jobs and Innovation. As a result of cuts made by these various departments:
-Almost 800 children are waiting six months or more for an assessment of need under the Disability Act
-Almost 35,000 people are waiting for speech and language therapy
-There has been a 15% reduction in resource teaching hours since 2011
-People receiving Disability Allowance have seen this payment fall by almost €900 since 2008
-Just 5% of adults with an intellectual disability are currently in employment.

However, the organisations insisted that the Government is ‘not interested in getting people with an intellectual disability into the workforce'.

"They are not on the live register and therefore getting them into employment will not improve the statistics that this Government sees as the benchmark of success," commented Pat Clarke, chief executive of DSI.

The organisations are urging the Government to support people with intellectual disabilities in the forthcoming Budget. It is due to be announced on October 15.



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