I, as a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters, has questioned the Government commitment to support people living with a disability.
The absence of any measure in Budget 2024 to deal with the additional cost of living with a disability. These costs were acknowledged in the Indecon Report, and the recent Green Paper, at €8,700 to €12,300 per year and yet there is no such cost of disability measures in Budget 2024.
It is difficult to understand how the cost of disability payment, acknowledged and introduced for the first time in Budget 2023 at €500, has not been continued in the Budget. The Government stated last year that it is important to acknowledge that persons living with a disability face additional costs but this year they have ignored their own beliefs.
Additional cost of living expenses and the lack of any transport support scheme for people with disability has again left many disabled peopled isolated and grounded despite the damning Report from the then Ombudsman Peter Tyndall in 2021.
The issue of pay for section 38 and 39 health workers and the pending strike action is leading to the cancellation of services, and this is compounding the serious suffering and stress endured by people with a disability and their families. Consequently, services to disabled people are being further restricted and downgraded on a daily basis for some time.
The government knows what needs to happen to properly resolve this crisis in critical services that disabled people and their families depend on.”
The Government has had four Budgets now in which to keep the promise they made in their Programme for Government. Ireland is also at the bottom of the EU league table in relation to disability employment rates. Disabled people are caught between a rock and a hard place, and they now face an income cliff edge in 2024.
Budget 2024 should have measures to ensure disabled people have equal access to live independently in the community, with choices equal to others (Article 19, UN CRPR). Appropriate housing, adequate income and individualised social care supports with access to timely integrated healthcare will prevent unnecessary admission to nursing homes and go some way in achieving this.
The budget announcement as a €64 million allocation, far short of the funding requirements outlined in the government’s Disability Capacity Review which stated that €1 billion additional funding is required for disability services by 2032.