Down Syndrome Ireland reaction to Budget 2018




Gary Owens CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland which represents 3500 families of people with Down syndrome said he welcomed the increase in Special Needs Assistants by 1,000 by September 2018 and the commitment to establish a long-overdue VAT Compensation Scheme for Charities.

The charity also heartily welcomed the Department of Education and Skill’s later Budget announcement that funding of €2 million will be allocated to develop and implement a pilot model of in-school speech and language therapy, which is something that Down Syndrome Ireland has long been lobbying for.

He said: “Children with Down syndrome have significant language disorders and these can impact not only their education but their later independence in life. Providing speech and language therapy support in education settings even on a pilot basis is a small but significant – and very much welcome – step forward. We look forward to the successful piloting of the scheme and its national roll-out as without adequate access to speech and language therapy, children with Down syndrome are put on a path to lifelong disability and dependence and all the costs associated with that rather than a path to independence.”

The charity added that Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said the Government “were conscious in particular that everyone should have the opportunity to share in the benefits of an economy emerging from recession”. However, the Government has missed a valuable opportunity to extend the benefit to introduce meaningful reforms to make it financially viable for a person with a disability to take up employment.

He said: “Down Syndrome Ireland has called on the Government to decouple the disability allowance from unemployment assistance and benefits. In an environment where we are reaching full employment, there is a real opportunity for the Government to enable people with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, to contribute to the economy and access employment without the fear of losing their benefits. We also urge the Government to fast-track the execution of the National Disability Strategy which will provide the necessary sustainable platform and infrastructure for people with disabilities.”

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