Much too little, much too thinly spread – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin’s Disability Rights and Older Persons Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described Budget 2017 as ‘much too little, much too thinly spread’ for all Irish people, particularly those with disabilities and our older people.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“As part of our alternative budget, Sinn Féin proposed an investment of over €230 million in services for citizens with a disability, in front-line supports, training and employment, housing and tackling the cost of having a disability. The Government’s proposals announced today fall well short of what we provided for.
“I welcome the fact that the Government have finally decided to grant a medical card to all children in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance. Sinn Féin have been calling for this measure over many years and it is deeply regrettable that so many of our children and their families have had to suffer because of their inability to secure these cards.
“I have concerns regarding the fact that it is only those over-70 that will avail of a €5 decrease in their prescription charges every month. It would appear that no allowance has been made for those under the age of 70 who are impacted by the charge. In our alternative budget, Sinn Féin provided for the reduction of prescription charges by €1 per prescription as a first step to its overall abolition for everyone, regardless of one’s age.
“Children with special educational needs are not getting the resource teaching hours they need and which are recommended for them by expert clinicians. The Government has not taken the opportunity to reverse the cruel 15% cut in resource hours for children with special educational needs which we provided for. This is deeply regrettable.
“In terms of our Older People, minimal funding has been provided for pensions and those minimal increases will only take effect after the winter which means another 5 months of hardship. Sinn Féin proposed an increased spend of over €320 million in social protection supports for older citizens, of which €270 million would be targeted at progressive pension increases. For example, under our plan 190,000 older citizens in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance would see their pension increase by almost €300 per year. We also provided for an additional 3 weeks of the fuel allowance and the restoration of the bereavement grant.
“It is spending of this magnitude that is urgently required to ease the burden on our older people and those living with disabilities. This budget should have been about mainstreaming equality for all citizens. But all this budget amounts to is much too little, much too thinly spread.”