A report in the Irish Times on 14 October quoted a leaked document from Ireland’s Health Service Executive (the HSE) as saying it was considering making massive cuts to home help and personal assistance hours between now and the end of the year. The HSE said it is considering reducing home help hours by 600, 000 and personal assistance hours by 400,000. In addition it may freeze the issuing of new medical cards which would have very serious consequences for our members.
In response to this report the Center for Independent Living Carmichael House, which has the national mandate for CILs in Ireland, issued a press release denouncing any such proposed cuts. Michael McCabe, Chairman of CIL CMH, said:
“Make no mistake this will have a big impact on people with disabilities and may lead to further institutionalisation. It will certainly erode basic human rights and actually cost more money at the end of the day.”
Michael was speaking at the launch of CIL CMH’s pre-budget submission which also took place on the 14th October.
In that submission the Centre for Independent Living called upon the Irish Government to consider the following when drafting the 2012 Budget:
- That funding for Personal Assistance Service (PAS) is ring-fenced and no further cuts made. Our members have already seen cuts to their PAS hours. Just prior to the bank holiday last August many of our members were informed that their PAS hours were cut, this without any risk assessment being made. Furthermore, CIL is concerned that Carers and Home Care Assistants are being passed off as Personal Assistants.
- That there are no further reductions to the state income of people with disabilities for example the invalidity pension was singled out and cut in the previous two Budgets whereas the old age pension, which is a rights based entitlement, remained untouched.
- Government should combine Jobseekers, Community Employment (CE) and Community Service (CS) schemes with a view to effecting a transition from CE to CS.
- The above schemes together with all disability funding should be kept ring-fenced.
- We call upon Government not to impose any further cuts to the funding of the CILs.
- Finally, in drafting the Budget CIL calls upon Government to do so in accordance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities which CIL notes, with disappointment, has yet to be ratified by Ireland.
Later on the same day the Irish Minister for State currently holding the Disability portfolio, Kathleen Lynch, said that no such cuts to hours would happen. However, some of our members have already received letters informing them of cuts to their hours.
The projected savings of € 21 million are miniscule given the consequences
these cuts have on our members. Furthermore any projected savings will be off set against hidden costs that will be incurred, its false economy.