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A bad budget for the disabled

The budget is a body blow for parents with autistic children.

Most of the parents we deal with at Shine will be worse off by at least €1,000. and more likely nearer to €1,500 a year. There is no getting away from it, the disabled community, one of the most disadvantaged in our society, has been severely hit by a budget again. The savage cut on respite care grant is very hard to take for most families; nearly 20%. Only a politician with the biggest brass neck could try and put a spin on this budget that the most vulnerable in society have not been hit. The privilege of having a special needs child in your family is going to cost approximately €500 more a year at least.

The cut in respite care grant is indiscriminate and takes no account of household income, but this seems to be the thought process behind the whole budget process. There is no real attempt to try and safeguard the most financially challenged.

On top of all this bad news, families with autistic children or adults will now be waiting fearfully of what back door charges (and cuts) are going to be brought in. Services received from the public sector have already been cut, and are likely be cut further.

It is clear the Government does not really value our society’s disabled children and quite clearly sees no worthwhile future for them. They are to be classed as economic burdens on the State and as such, the State clearly treats them as second class citizens. This is ironic considering the Government, only a few weeks ago, would have us believe they were championing the rights of children in a referendum.

Without adequate and appropriate supports our autistic children and adults cannot hope to reach their potential. The savage cuts imposed on our children will ensure that many of them will have no worthwhile future in our society, because of service cutbacks and therefore their quality of life will be reduced. The ongoing financial cutbacks in budget after budget mean many parents are now faced with reality of watching their loved ones regress, knowing they cannot do anything about it. The Government is taking away services, incomes and now even hope.

The government insists it is going to fix the economy. The problem is what type of society will we have left when they achieve that goal?

Kieran Kennedy





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