Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath today welcomed the increased allocation in Budget 2017 to address a number of priorities for disability services in the Programme for Partnership Government. Including the additional funding of €31m secured earlier this year, the allocation for disability services will rise to over €1.654bn in 2017, compared to the €1.562bn originally allocated in the National Service Plan 2016 an increase of €92 million. This additional funding includes pay adjustments under the Lansdowne Road agreement, the full year effect of 2016 service developments and additional funding to address key priorities.
Additional funding has been secured for disability services to address the continuing financial pressures arising from on-going service improvement, as well as providing for new initiatives, such as the commitment to meet the needs of school leavers with disabilities who require supports from the HSE. The Minister said:
“I am very pleased that I have been able to both protect significant existing resources and obtain additional funding for disability services. Earlier this year I secured €31m in additional funding to address much needed emergency residential supports; to implement improvements to meet regulatory standards; and to ensure that all 18-year-old school leavers with disabilities would have access to supports which met their needs, at one of the most crucial transition points in their lives. I can now confirm that I have managed to safeguard this funding for 2017”.
The further additional funding obtained this year will provide for the full year effect of these additional services in 2017, as well as making sure that the needs of all those leaving school in 2017 will also be addressed.
Additional therapy supports including speech & language and occupational therapy put in place in 2016 will be further augmented by increased funding for the continued implementation of the Progressing Disability Services Programme for children and young people with disabilities. This funding will also contribute to the provision of appropriate supports for children with disabilities attending pre-school under the new Access and Inclusion Model, in cooperation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The Minister will ask the HSE, in preparing its National Service Plan, to examine how a number of other key priorities from the Programme for Government can be progressed in 2017 within the overall increased envelope of funding for disability services.
€10m for medical cards for children who qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance
In addition to the increased funding for the Disability Services budget, Minister McGrath has secured a further €10 million to enable all children who qualify for the Domiciliary Care Allowance to be provided with a medical card. This measure will benefit approximately 10,000 children, subject to the drafting of the necessary legislation and its successful passage through the Oireachtas. The Minister said: “I am delighted to be able to bring forward this measure, to alleviate some of the pressures facing these families.”
In conclusion, Minister McGrath stated: “It has been a privilege for me as Minister to have met many people with disabilities and their families since I took up my role earlier this year. I am acutely aware of the daily struggles faced by people with disabilities and their families and carers. I am wholly committed to doing my very best to empower all people with a disability to live self-directed lives, to provide them with greater independence in accessing the services they choose and to enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their future. The funding provided in Budget 2017 is another step along the road to achieving this aim.”