Inclusion Ireland’s initial reaction to the Budget 2020 measures announced yesterday is that there will be little benefit for people with intellectual disabilities from this budget.
Read our press release: "Budget 2020 continues the status quo for people with intellectual disabilities"
There is a lack of clarity and transparency around yesterday’s budget and how the allocations will be spent, particularly in the area of health, which makes it difficult to know if allocations are new money or carried on from previous commitments. So far, the measures announced include the below:
- Increase of €100 in home carer tax credit, bringing it to €1600 (first increase since 2006)
- Prescription charges reduced by 50c and the drug payment scheme threshold reduced by €10
- An additional allocation of €52 million in home help funding to allow for one million home help hours
- €25m for disability services to be allocated to day service places for new school leavers, respite and an autism plan
- The amount of time those in receipt of carer’s benefit can work or study will rise from 15 to 18.5 hours per week.
- 100% Christmas bonus for all social welfare recipients in 2019
- €5 increase in Living Alone Allowance in 2020
- €15 increase for the One Parent Family Payment and increases in the Qualified Child Payments
- €2 a week increase in fuel allowance.
- €59 million to deliver up to 12,000 grants to adapt the homes of older people and people with a disability
- Capital funding of more than €1.1 billion to deliver 11,000 social homes in 2020
- €80 million for the Housing Assistance Payment scheme
- Help to Buy Scheme extended
- 400 additional teaching posts in the area of ‘special education’ and 1000 additional SNA’s
- 150 new mainstream teaching posts
- €2.5million for specific activation and training supports for groups most distant from the labour market (no more specific detail)
- No increase in the minimum wage
- An increase of more than 25% to support preschool access for children with disabilities under AIM (the Access and Inclusion Model).
- No mention of funding for the Decision Support Service as yet
While there are piecemeal measures that will have a small benefit for some people with disabilities, the combined effect will be very small relative to the challenges that people with disabilities face.
There is little that will address the ongoing and persistent poverty experienced by people with disabilities.
In the area of health spending, decisions announced will do little to support people with disabilities to live independent lives. Though the HSE’s service plan will provide more detail on how the total allocation for disability services will be spent, it is disappointing to see no additional funding for much needed PA services. It remains to be seen whether the increase in home help hours will be of any benefit to people with disabilities.
Worryingly, there has been no mention of funding for the long delayed Decision Support Service. In last year’s budget, €3 million was allocated to replace the much-criticised ward-of-court system, less than a third of what is needed. The funding shortfall meant that the Decision Support Service would not be operational until 2020, five years after the introduction of legislation providing for it. It is most alarming that no clarification has yet been provided on the funding allocation for 2020.
There are some positives in the areas of education and early childhood care and education. The increased funding for AIM (the Access and Inclusion Model) is aimed at supporting the full roll out of AIM over the 2 year ECCE programme. The addition of 150 new mainstream teaching posts may help to reduce the number of children in plus sized classes, somewhat. The additional teaching posts and SNA posts should be targeted towards supporting children to be included in mainstream education, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In the area of housing, there is little to offer hope to the 2300 people with intellectual disabilities still living in large institutional settings, the 5000 people living in residential services or the many thousands more living with ageing parents and little to no supports. Government made the choice to continue funding the Help to Buy Scheme which, from January to August this year had cost €206 million. The Parliamentary Budget Office recently reported that more than half of the homes subsidised to date cost more than the average market price.
Equality proofing the budgetary process, which Inclusion Ireland, has asked for in previous budget submissions, would have picked up on the unequal impact of some of these policy decisions. Unfortunately, there appears to have been no progress on disability proofing budget decisions this year.
Government failed to publish an equality statement again this year. An ‘equality budgeting scan’ by the OECD was published which highlights some of the areas that equality budgeting could address, for example, the low rate of employment of people with disabilities compared with the general population. Without such a process, budgetary and policy decisions will continue to fail to recognise the rights of people with disabilities.