Minister acknowledges cuts to disability services will leave some users without appropriate places

Sunday 18 August 2013 21.23
Kathleen Lynch told parents some places "will not fully address individuals' requirements"
Kathleen Lynch told parents some places "will not fully address individuals' requirements"

Minister of State with responsibility for Disabilities Kathleen Lynch  has acknowledged that cuts to services will leave some users without appropriate places.

In a letter to parents in Galway, seen by RTÉ's This Week programme, Ms Lynch said that she was unable to say when children with intellectual disabilities, who are leaving school this year, will be offered appropriate services due to the current funding situation.

In the letter, Minister Lynch told parents that some places will be offered "which will not fully address individuals' requirements".

School leavers nationwide will be placed on a waiting list for additional services, but the Minister's letter states that "it is unfortunately impossible to say with any certainty when the remaining element of service will be provided".

The Brothers of Charity in Galway, who provide services to adults and children with intellectual disabilities, estimate that some services have a 13-year waiting list.

Figures compiled by the Brothers of Charity and seen by This Week also show that 19 school leavers can no longer be accommodated within their services due to funding cuts.

Cuts in funding of 1.2 per cent for this year follow several successive rounds of cuts, which have affected respite and residential care services offered by the Brothers of Charity.

Ms Lynch's letter outlines a different position to that of her department. In it, she acknowledges that some service providers are unable to continue with their current service provision levels. "Alongside the 1.2 per cent reduction in the 2013 budget, pressures such as the moratorium on staff recruitment have given rise to challenges in service provision. Some agencies may not have the physical capacity to provide further services in the current context."

However, a letter from a civil servant in the junior health minister's department to the HSE insists the Department of Health expects no reduction in services. The letter from a Health Department Assistant Secretary to the HSE's Chief Operating Officer says: "The Department's position is that the reduction of 1.2 per cent of the disability budget in 2013 was negotiated with and approved by the Government on the basis that there would be no overall reduction in the quantum of disability services this year".

The 1.2 per cent cut in the 2013 budget brings total cuts to between 15-22 per cent according to service providers.