20% Budget cut to Respite Care Grant alienates carers

Paddy Connolly CEO Inclusion Ireland says:

“The 20% cut to the Respite Care Grant in today’s budget comes on top of nationwide cuts to respite provision by the HSE. Essential respite to families and people with disabilities has been steadily eroded over the past 12 months. This cash payment, which the Government has targeted today, enables carers to purchase additional supports as part of a package of care and support for all family members.”

Respite Care Grant is an annual cash payment to carers. It has been reduced from €1,700 per annum to €1,375.

“Inclusion Ireland has been expressing its concern for some months that respite care has been under steady attack as part of the austerity measures. This cut is a back-door attack on disability provision despite a commitment from the Minister for Health that savings in the disability budget would not affect community services.

“The Respite Grant is one of the few provisions that provide families with choice and flexibility in meeting the support needs of their disabled family member and the broader family. It represents the type of funding model which this Government has stated it wishes to develop.

“A cut from €1700 to €1375 (20%) is an enormous reduction for families who already incur significant additional disability related costs. The absence within Government of any knowledge of the real cost of disability to inform budget decisions means families of people with disabilities are feeling increasingly alienated by this Government. This was evidenced when up to 5000 disability protestors marched on the Leinster House last month.

“Inclusion Ireland is calling on the Government to reverse the cut to the Respite Care Grant, the saving from which represents a tiny fraction of the overall budgetary adjustment, and fulfil a longstanding Government commitment to introduce a comprehensive ‘cost of disability payment’ which reflects the real cost of disability.”