Cuts ‘trap the disabled at home’

Disabled people have become prisoners in their own home due to cuts in welfare payments and support services, it has been claimed.

Ten leading organisations have demanded that the Government should recognise the social and care needs of people with a disability or mental health problem in December’s austerity Budget.

The umbrella group – which represent 800,000 people with disabilities – argued there is no Croke Park Agreement to protect service users across the country.

John Dolan, of the Disability Federation of Ireland, said 18.5% of the population have a disability – with the percentage increasing as people age.

He said: “Disability is not a sectoral issue, it is a social issue. The Taoiseach (Enda Kenny), the Tanaiste (Eamon Gilmore) and the Programme for Government have named people with disabilities, including mental health, as the Government’s social justice priority.

“There is no plan how to protect people (with a disability) from the cradle to the grave.”

The umbrella group has called on ministers to halt reductions in the income supports for people with disabilities dependent on benefits, maintain funding for the services needed by people with disabilities and publish and implement a Plan for the National Disability Strategy to incorporate into budget decision-making.

The groups maintain Government still has its social sovereignty and should put the same energy into maintaining disability services as to job creation.

Cystic Fibrosis sufferer Tom King, of the Centre for Independent Living (CIL), said personal assistant (PA) hours have been slashed nationwide – meaning disabled people have little chance of leaving the home socially.

“We are new back to the situation where they are actually making our home an institution because of the cuts,” said the 58-year-old, who takes 22 pills and four injections a day. “They have made the PA service homecare, but they will not give us social care.”