The head of the Social Democratic leader criticized the allotment of funds for the disabled in the budget for 2024.
Deputy Cairns, who is the party’s spokesperson on disability, said:
“People with disabilities must fight for the most basic rights from the day they are born. Despite the ongoing crisis in services, this Government continues to ignore the needs of disabled people and their families.
“The only thing they are guaranteed from the State are waiting lists: waiting lists for an assessment of need; waiting lists for therapies; waiting lists for a school place.
“There isn’t even clarity on how much money is going to disability services. The Budget document lays out an insultingly low figure of just €64 million. This was immediately contradicted by Minister of State Anne Rabbitte yesterday, who stated that there was a €195 million package on the table. However, her shortlist of expenditure left €87 million of that unaccounted for.
“So what exactly is the number? How much is the Government actually planning to spend on our threadbare disability services?
“My party is fully committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities. In our alternative budget, we allocated a total package of €534.1 million for disability services. This included a weekly €30 cost of disability payment, paid on top of core social welfare entitlements – a measure that was glaringly absent from yesterday’s Budget.
“There was no mention from Government of introducing pay parity for community and voluntary workers, who are set to strike next Tuesday, heaping even more pressure on creaking disability services.
“In addition, the Government’s derisory €12 increase in weekly welfare rates is not nearly enough to keep pace with inflation and will push more disabled people into poverty and deprivation.
“Successive governments have repeatedly failed people with disabilities. This Government cares so little about the challenges facing disabled people that it has yet to replace vital mobility schemes that were scrapped by the Taoiseach more than a decade ago.
“If this Government won’t sufficiently fund disability services at a time of record surpluses, then I have no faith that it ever will.”