Home help hours will not be cut
Super Junior Minister Finian McGrath has hit back at suggestions that there will be a reduction in emergency personal assistant and home help hours in next year's HSE budget.
Mr McGrath, who is the minister responsible for disability services, was incensed by suggestions that services for vulnerable people have been cut after he fought to ensure there would be no reduction in home help hours.
Confusion over the issue emerged following the publication of the HSE's Service Plan, which indicated that there would be around 250,000 less home help hours in 2017.
The misunderstanding arose from an overrun in 2016 between the targeted amount of personal assistant and home help hours to be provided and what was actually delivered by the HSE.
The overrun was caused by a lack of emergency funding for home help and personal assistant hours, which in turn put pressure on the central budget for the services and led to a significant increase in the hours provided.
The HSE has set aside €9m for 2017 to specifically fund the emergency cases which arose this year.
"In summary, the personal assistant target for 2017 is 1.4m funded hours - an increase of 100,000 hours over the 2016 target of 1.3m hours.
"The home support target for 2017 is 2.75m hours, an increase of 150,000 hours over the 2016 target of 2.6m hours," the minister said.