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Tuesday, 7th February 2012
CAMPAIGN MOBILISES TO STOP CUTS TO VITAL SERVICE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Chairman of the Centre for Independent Living (CIL) has announced today (7.02.12) that it has commenced a campaign among its membership against cuts to the Personal Assistance (PA) services.
The PA service enables many people with disabilities to take up employment and participate more fully in their community. However, over the past number of months, there has been a significant reduction in PA services available and, in particular, out-of-home services have been effectively curtailed.
PA services are operated through mainstream services, as well as through Community Employment schemes. In December, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, assured the Centre for Independent Living that Personal Assistants would be maintained with the support of her Department, even where some Community Employment Schemes were under threat. However, this assurance has not amounted to anything as a significant cut was imposed on the budget of Community Employment Schemes regardless. This has a direct impact on the availability of Personal Assistance Services. In addition where individuals are in a position to take up mainstream Personal Assistance Services they too are being hit by a significant reduction in service hours provided through the HSE.
Since early last July the Centre for Independent Living has received reports from its members of cuts to Personal Assistance. CIL has been in high level discussions since then regarding this however to date the cuts continue to be made. The accumulative effect of the CE scheme cuts together with that of the HSE funding is to effectively institutionalise people in their own homes.
According to the Chairperson of the Centre for Independent Living, Michael McCabe, “People with disabilities understand the need to ensure value for money in our public services. However, bluntly cutting the availability of the PA services means that less people with a disability will have the freedom to live independently. This cut needs to be evaluated against the cost of providing rehabilitative, institutionalised or congregated care to the affected group of people.
“It is our view that the withdrawal of PA will put even more pressure on frontline staff, and will cost more money in the long run. At a human level, it robs people of their personal freedoms and prohibits those of us who have been affected from participating in society.
“It has taken over two decades to establish good quality, widespread PA services around Ireland. This has had an extremely positive impact on the lives of many people with a disability. For some it has meant being able to take up employment; for others, it has meant the opportunity to get involved in community projects and voluntary activity. The diminution of this service – through what appears to be a lack of policy and social analysis – is now starting to hit hard,” he said.
The Centre for Independent Living is now working with its membership around the country to roll-out a campaign of political and public awareness to ensure that the PA service is brought back to full service and that no further blunt cuts – that have such a hugely negative impact on the health and well-being of people with disabilities – are implemented.
It is expected that Ministers, TDs and Senators will receive correspondences this week from people directly affected by the cuts in PA services.