Most of disability funds go on wages

 

TOO MUCH money is being spent on wages for those who work in the disability sector and not enough on those who need their services, the Minister of State with responsibility for disabilities has said.

Kathleen Lynch said 80 per cent of the €1.5 billion spent by the State on disabilities went on wages where a 60:40 split would be more appropriate. She described reforming the present system as like “turning the Titanic with the iceberg embedded in it”, but it had to be done.

“We need to get a grip of it. We have to start challenging what are considered to be the sacred cows in society,” she said.

Speaking at the opening of an office for the Caring for Carers in Dublin yesterday, Ms Lynch said the carers strategy, which is currently being worked on by the Government, would not be cost neutral and money would have to be found to fund it.

She said both Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin had told her they had no money.

“We need to stop saying that. We need to stop talking about the recession and we need to start talking about the positive things in life we do every day,” she said.

Government strategy was focused on getting people with disabilities, both physical and mental, out of institutions and into the community. However, elderly people were being driven back into the same institutions, she said. The notion that somebody needed to be put into an institution just because they had become a little bit confused was “ridiculous”, she said.

“We shouldn’t be doing it. Just because we gave tax breaks to a whole swathe of people doesn’t mean that that we have to fill their beds,” she said, referring to previous government’s scheme to give tax breaks to build nursing homes.

The Caring for Carers organisation involves 106 carer groups throughout Ireland. The centre in Dublin will offer advice on health, benefits and respite for carers.