Julie Helen: Don't forget disability in Budget 2022

Julie Helen wants to remind the government that they have made a lot of promises which she hopes they honour.
Julie Helen: Don't forget disability in Budget 2022

Julie Helen, WoW! columnist has called on the government to deliver for disabled people in Budget 2022 

BUDGET 2022 is coming up. As we speak there is jostling and bargaining going on in the government departments as they try to prise enough dosh out of the department of finance to deliver on the promises in the programme for government or indeed election promises that so often get forgotten.

I feel invested in this year’s budget, pardon my pun, not least because I work in the disability sector and I can see the dire need people and families are in.

Now when you hear the disability sector mentioned, it may feel like it is at arm’s length from you but in reality funding for people with disabilities spans across all facets of life. 

As disabled people we need houses, we need jobs, we need to get around, we need to engage in civic and social life just like everyone else. On top of that though, we often need more support to do all the things we want to or we may need extra equipment or have more costs just to live ordinary lives and that needs to be funded. And it will cost a lot.

The government very recently did a capacity review on disability services, taking into account what would need to be done in disability services to account for the growing need and our ageing population. 

Putting it very crudely, at the very minimum, according to the review the government would need to be spending 550 million more euro on disability services each year in order to keep things ticking over between now and 2032 and really to do any kind of development they would need to spend 1 billion more than they are now, each year.

The sad reality is that even at those levels we are talking about having good residential supports for disabled people, respite care, moving people out of institutions, moving young people out of nursing homes where they are inappropriately stuck and basically meeting unmet emergency need of our disabled population. I hate thinking about disability in terms of money, I really do, it takes all humanity out of it. 

The conversations we should be having is how can we offer people with disabilities more choice and control over their lives, our lives, at every stage of life. Parents shouldn’t have to fight for inclusive education, young people shouldn’t have to fight for employment opportunities or the chance to live independently with whoever they choose with the right community supports so that they can be part of society. It shouldn’t be a fight, it shouldn’t be a worry, but it is.

We need action now for people who are stuck because they don’t have the supports they need to overcome the challenges their disability presents.  I want to remind the government that they have made a lot of promises which I hope they honour. People’s lives count and I call on the government, when it comes to Budget 2022, don’t forget disability!

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