Rehab Group, the country’s largest disability services provider, has voiced deep disappointment in Budget 2024’s glaring omission of essential measures to support the disabled population and avert the escalating crisis within the disability sector.
Amidst the ongoing struggle, over 12,000 adults and children with disabilities, reliant on the crucial services provided by the Rehab Group, are grappling with a stark reality. Many say they cannot survive independently without financial support from family, depend on food banks to meet food bills and struggle to cope with exceptionally high energy costs.
The plight of individuals with disabilities was outlined in the Rehab Group’s Pre-Budget Submission. It implored the Government to ensure that Budget 2024 heralds a more equitable society and forges pathways towards full community participation for disabled individuals.
Barry McGinn, CEO of Rehab Group, says disabled people are being left behind in an economy where one-third of people with disabilities are at risk of poverty. “In our pre-budget survey, respondents voiced the myriad additional costs that disability imposes on their lives: soaring heating expenses, heightened health-related costs, transport costs, and the financial burden of housing adaptations. Budget 2024 fails to proactively address the specific financial challenges of disability, offering only a meagre increase in social welfare. A much-needed disability support payment, implemented last year to alleviate the immense financial strain of the cost of living crisis on disabled individuals, has actually been slashed at a time when keeping the lights on is a struggle for many.”
McGinn continued, “Our hopes were pinned on the budget providing the requisite support for disabled individuals to lead independent lives. We had advocated for a minimum €30 increase in core social protection rates, alongside an annual cost of disability payment. The Cost of Disability Report demonstrated that disability inflicts annual costs ranging from €9,000 to €13,000. Immediate recognition and redress of the cost of disability is imperative if the rights of disabled individuals are to be upheld.”
Furthermore, the Budget Statement lacks clarity on funding provisions for Section 39 organisations, leaving a question mark on the issue of pay parity. The ongoing inequity of pay between those working in State funded agencies and our own threatens the very sustainability and quality of our services and supports.
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