October 8, 2019
Budget 2020 “hugely disappointing” – Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability Rights and Older People Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described today’s Budget measures as “hugely disappointing in the face of very obvious shortfalls and failures on the part of a succession of governments”.

Teachta Ó Caoláin said;

“I am struck by the lack of measures aimed at improving the daily reality of people with disabilities and the absence of detail regarding the meagre provisions contained in Budget 2020 that may apply to people with a disability and their families. The lack of any serious address of the needs of people with a disability will precipitate a growing crisis for many individuals and their loved ones.

“That an Autism Plan is only referred to by way of a terse reference, is a disgrace. There have been years of engagement from advocacy groups and families on the need for an Autism Plan. Nobody in Government can be in any doubt that what we needed today was the detail of how this would be structured, funded and timeframed and how quickly it could be actioned to impact positively on the lives of people with autism and their families.

“The allocation of 1 million extra home care hours has been advanced by Government as a major step forward. This will not even clear the current waiting list which stands at 7,300 people.

“Sinn Féin sought and received costings from Minister Donohoe’s own Department for clearing the Home Support Services waiting lists. We were told that close to 2.5 million hours were required. €59 million was set aside in our Alternative Budget to achieve this. The Government and Fianna Fáil’s 1 million extra hours won’t even address the current backlog never mind the additional demand that will present in 2020.

“The crisis in recruitment and retention of frontline healthcare staff has impacted on the needs of people with disabilities. Today’s budget provides no commitment to recruiting any extra frontline staff.

“Sinn Féin identified the need for 600 extra frontline staff such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists and provided for their recruitment in our Alternative Budget.

“Sinn Féin has consistently called for the reinstatement of the Rehabilitative Training Allowance only recently axed by this Government.

“Today’s Budget contains non-specific references to continuing to assist school leavers with supports and services as they transition into adulthood. Some 400 school leavers with a disability are now suffering from the withdrawal of the RTA which many had factored into their further education and training plans.

“Today’s Budget has barely even acknowledged the ongoing and ever growing crises being forced upon people with disabilities. This is not good enough.

“It is time to allow those who are serious about providing for the needs of our disabled citizens, and our elderly, to do what this Government has always failed to do. The next General Election will hopefully return a more in-touch and caring Government than we have experienced over these many years.”

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