Budget 2015 falls too short in protecting the rights of people with disabilities

People with disabilities in Ireland will have to continue to fight hard for their right to Independent Living after Budget 2015 failed to sufficiently address the restoration of vital public services and supports.

Áiseanna Tacaíochta (ÁT) is disappointed that the measures announced in yesterday’s Budget do too little to enable disabled people to live with independence and well-being in their own communities, with few solid plans outlined for the future of disability services.

Director of ÁT, Martin Naughton, stated, “Government has missed a crucial opportunity to strengthen funding to people with disabilities and to begin the restoration of the essential community-based services which they need.  Income supports, as well as disability and health services, were devastated during the recession and the subsequent years of austerity; more should have been done to push them forward and to achieve meaningful social recovery”.

While the organisation acknowledges some positive measures – such as increased funding to the health, education and housing sectors; adjustments to the Universal Social Charge (USC) and extension of the Water Charge relief system; and the commitment to changing the guidelines for the discretionary medical card to benefit people with profound illness – these don’t stretch far enough to make a real difference to the access of services or quality of life for people with disabilities.

Mr Naughton explained, “People with disabilities face significant hidden costs as a result of their health condition, and this Budget fails to make any provision to ease this substantial pressure that they and their families bear.  What initially appear to be constructive measures, such as the introduction of a 25% Christmas bonus to social welfare recipients, cannot mask the failure to increase the Disability Allowance or other such payments.  Detail on the restitution of the critical public services which they and their families need to access also stands far too lacking, signalling a worrying lack of ambition to realise it”.

“People with disabilities want to be and must be empowered to live with independence, choice and dignity in their own communities and it is disheartening that Budget 2015 shows no signs of securing or protecting that right.  It remains essential that Government acts to translate economic growth into true social recovery for all, including people with disabilities”.

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For more, please contact Orlaith Grehan, ÁT Communications Officer, on 086 183 1502 or at orlaithatnetwork@gmail.com

 

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