Press Release from Onafhankelijk Leven vzw (CIL Flanders, Belgium)
The disability sector is subject to a historical change as and from the 1st January 2015. The Flemish parliament has approved the Flemish Parliament decree which will realise this change. The decree of Individual Funding is providing a system in which the budget of the government goes to disabled people themselves, instead of subsidizing the service providers. The non-profit organisation Onafhakelijk Leven considers this approval only as a first step. There’s still a lot of work to be done and there are still concerns.
To be able to decide yourself
Direct financing to people themselves was already possible by means of the Personal Assistance Budget (PAB). The government gives the PAB to all disabled people who continue living at home with personal assistance, but also to people who are still living in institutions. All disabled people can acquire complete control in this way. Onafhankelijk Leven vzw expects that in the future many more people will, by means of this measure, decide to keep living at home, with the help of personal assistants.
Viviane Sorée, President of Onafhankelijk Leven vzw: “For the first time there will be a change in the system providing all disabled peoplean opportunity to decide themselves about their assistance. They make their choice themselves between cash money to get assistants or a voucher to go to a home of their choice and it also makes it possible to leave whenever they want if they’re not satisfied. They can also choose a combination of both.”
Still much work towards practical implementation
The Flemish Parliament only approved the decree and it is up to the next Flemish government to achieve all of the implementing decisions. That means that there is still a lot of work to do for the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (VAPH) and the disability sector together to prepare for the implementation of this change in the system.
It is crucial to Onafhankelijk Leven vzw that people who keep living at home with a personal assistance get a budget which is at least as high as the people who are taken care of in institutions. Today this is not the case. Apart from this, it is of great importance that the freedom of spending your budget in the current PAB scheme, is extended to the new system.
To reform and reorganise
Aneyesore is still the unfair and costly system of care priority management. The government also needs to reorganize this, just as the VAPH. The VAPH recently got a new Administrator General: James Van Casteren. He has to ensure that the new vision goes through all departments of VAPH and that the organisation acquires new structures and systems to enable the implementation of the personal financing system. Onafhankelijk Leven vzw wants to be a partner in this.
No one should lose
Another fact is that no one should lose in this case: not the current Personal assistance users or the people who live in institutions. This was also one of the main juridical pieces of advice of the Council of State. According to Onafhankelijk Leven vzw, the government needs to provide more financial means to overcome the transition of the existing system to the new system. It should provide additional finance for this in surplus to the € 500 million which is indispensable to deal with the current waiting lists.
Support budget holders
Finally, we expect the government to strongly support the self-organization of disabled people by backing them by means of well-organised, independent budget holder associations, such as Onafhankelijk Leven vzw itself. Today Onafhankelijk Leven vzw is only 6% subsidized by the Ministry of Welfare.
No problem, if we believe our politicians. In debates in preparation of this decree, almost every political group promised solemnly to realize the aforementioned issues.
Onafhankelijk Leven vzw
Onafhankelijk Leven vzw is an organisation of and for disabled people. As a social movement, we defend the interests of disabled people. We do this with European and Flemish policy influencing, sensibilisation and a strong voluntary work.
As a service, we give information and advice about the Personal Assistance Budget (PAB). The PAB is an amount of money which somebody with a disabiliity can use to pay assistants to assist him or her. This allows this person to live at home and not to go to an institution. Our services consist of an assistance telephone line and coaching.
Tel 09/255 44 48
mobile 0475/87 71 29
thanks to Onafhankelijk Leven volunteer Carli Cooreman for the English translation