IMO: Extra resources for mental health not enough

The Irish Medical Organisation says the €25m allocated to mental-health services in yesterday’s Budget doesn’t go far enough.

The organisation is welcoming the extra money, but says it won’t make a huge difference to waiting lists.

Almost €8m has been specifically designated for the development of child and adolescent services, but the IMO says around €50m is needed to fully improve that service alone.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health says he is not happy with delays in treatment services for children.

Tim O’Malley was responding today to further questions arising out of last Monday night’s TV documentary on services for children with psychiatric problems.

He confirmed that he had been in contact with one of the families involved in the documentary and was trying to get services for them.

“I’m not satisfied and nobody could be satisfied with the inordinate delays and bureaucracy that they’ve had to go through,” he said.


Pressure groups give mixed reaction to Budget measures

Pressure groups working in a range of areas have given a mixed reaction to the Budget measures announced by Minister for Finance Brian Cowen yesterday.

The National Women’s Council and the One Family support group for single parents both say they are unhappy with the lack of measures to make childcare more affordable.

Elsewhere, groups representing the elderly say they are disappointed with the increase in the old-age pension.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul has welcomed the pension increases, but says it is unhappy with the €4 increase in the fuel allowance for older people and low-income families.

The housing organisation Threshold has said an increase of €30 per year in the tax allowance for people renting their home is derisory and insulting given the high rents across the country.

The Irish Patients Association has also criticised the 25% increase in the cost of staying in a public hospital bed, saying it will push up insurance premiums by 5% to 6%.

The Irish Farmers Association says changes to stamp duty on farm land and support for bio-fuel crop growers make this year’s Budget a positive one for its members.

The Irish Medical Organisation has welcomed the increase of 50c in the price of 20 cigarettes and the removal of cigarettes from the Consumer Price Index.

Elsewhere, business groups say they are worried that the significant increase in government spending runs the risk of fuelling inflation and the lack of measures to tackle energy costs.

However, they have welcomed provisions to encourage private investment in small businesses and changes in research and development tax credits.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, meanwhile, has welcomed moves to remove people on the minimum wage from the tax net, but says Mr Cowen should have done more to adjust tax credits and tax bands instead of reducing the higher rate of tax.

Tax experts say the changes that were introduced favour higher income earners and people on the average industrial wage will not be much better off as a result of the Budget.