Reaction to Budget 2012: Part 1

L-R: Brendan Howlin pictured during the Labour...
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Today we got a look at the first part of Budget 2012 . Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin today announced a series of measures that add up to the €2.2bn in cuts.

The main points that I took from today’s announcements:

  • Government will reduce the size of the public service to 282,500 by end 2015
  • €250 added to the Student Registration Fee
  • Student Support funding cut by 14%
  • Student Maintenance Grant cut by 3%
  • No new post Graduate Maintenance Grants
  • Community Employment Scheme: The training and materials grant will reduce from €1,500 to €500 per participant per annum
  • Disability Allowance Cut to €0 for those aged 16 and 17
  • Disability Allowance for under 25s cut from €188 to €100 if under 21 and €144 if under 24. Now same as jobseekers allowance
  • Drugs Payment Scheme increased to €132
  • The frequency of the grant for hearing aids will change from 2 years to 4 years.
  • Winter Fuel Allowance reduced to 26 weeks from 32

There are plenty of other cuts and changes announced, see the links at the end for them all.

To me what stands out from this budget is the Disabled. Above I highlighted the cuts to young people with Disabilities, but on top of that there are cuts to the Equality Tribunal, Equality Authority and the Budget for Equality Proofing is completely gone. This is not how we are going to look after people in our society and allow them to live their lives with dignity.

The cuts also focus on students with an increase in Registration fees and grant cuts. We cannot tax our way out of the recession but we do need a knowledge economy we we want to get out the recession so cuts in Education make very little sense.

In these times it is understandable that the Government faces tough choices, and these cuts were probably hard to make. No one is ever 100% happy we a budget, and very few people will be close to that after today’s announcement. But as An Taoiseach warned us in his National Address, these are tough times and tough measures are needed, but they too need to be balanced. The problem with the cuts announced today is that these same people will be hit tomorrow in any announcement of an increase in indirect taxation, especially a VAT rise.

The Minister for Finance will deliver his Budget statement at 3:45pm tomorrow.

Further Reading:

Budget 2012 (pt 1): the main points of Brendan Howlin’s announcement

We need to change how we refer to people with disabilities

11th Special Olympics World Summer Games
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On Wednesday I found this post by a parent of a child with disbilities trying to get people to stop using the “r-word” on twitter. It documents the responses she got, some make fun, but others take her point. We need more people like her! That post brought a tear to my eye. I rarely use the word, and now I will endeavour to use it less.

Then while going through my news feeds I discovered this story on the Irish Examiner, its sub heading was “HE won gold in the Special Olympics but is classed a “lunatic”.”

This post was about our legal system and how it classes people with mental disabilities as a “person of unsound mind”. How demeaning is that? How old fashioned is that? Why do we allow our legal system to still use terminology like that? Why is the Lunacy Act 1871 still in force?

Can we not move on with the times and treat people with disabilities with respect and allow them to represeneted fully in law.

I hope the new government will take on board this and attempt to change how we refer to people with disabilities within in our legal system as that may help  change how the rest of society treats people with mental disabilities. It baby steps, but every little helps.