Down Syndrome Ireland welcomes some measures in Budget 2022, but says more is needed

Down Syndrome Ireland has said it is disappointed that yet again the additional costs of disability in Ireland have not been recognised by our Government.   

The charity welcomed the additional €105 million announced for disability services in 2022, but said it is considerably lower than the amounts identified by the Government itself as needed from Budget 2022 to address the unmet needs of people with disabilities in this country.

Barry Sheridan, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland, said: “The Disability Capacity Review – which was published by the Department of Health in July – estimated that €350-€600 million would be needed from Budget 2022 to address unmet needs in disability services. While we welcome the funding, by the Government’s own advice, it doesn’t go nearly far enough, which is worrying.”

The charity outlined that while there are some positive measures in Budget 2022, much more needs to be done to ensure a fair and equitable society for people with disabilities and their families. 

Mr. Sheridan continued: “An extra €5 a week for disability and carers allowance is welcome but it does not take into account the significant extra cost of disability. Supports for people with disabilities were badly affected during the pandemic, leaving them isolated and anxious. We still don’t know what the long-term consequences on people’s physical and mental health will be.” 

The charity also welcomed the announcement by the Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, and Disability Anne Rabbitte that some of the additional disability funding will be used to recruit therapists to improve access to early intervention services; to increase respite places; to address congregated settings, and to end inappropriate nursing home placements.

Mr. Sheridan added: “These are very positive goals, and we will watch with interest to see how they translate to real changes on the ground.”

He concluded that the charity welcomed educational measures such as the additional 980 teachers in special education, 350 teachers in mainstream schools, and 1165 additional SNA’s, which will undoubtedly be beneficial for students with Down syndrome. He also welcomed the changes to the DCA, and the carer’s allowance income disregards.

Mr. Sheridan continued “These measures will help people with disabilities and their families. However, the fact remains that Ireland has one of the lowest rates of employment and highest rates of poverty for people with disabilities in the EU. While these small steps are very welcome, more needs to be done.

“Down Syndrome Ireland has been campaigning for 50 years for the rights of people with Down syndrome in Ireland, but we are still a long way away from a society that ensures an equitable and more inclusive life for everyone; where everyone has a basic income which covers essential needs and where vital supports and services can be provided in the right way at the right time.”