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Extra €100m will go to disability packages in Budget


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An extra €100m is to be found for disability packages in today's Budget.

And there could be a promise to put more disability entitlements on a statutory footing, to be overseen by a new State body, although this is a long-term ambition.

The Taoiseach signalled his intentions in little-noticed comments last week, saying he was determined to do what is required to provide for disability services for all ages.

"When I was a minister in previous governments, I made it my business to go above and beyond and to do something specific and extra for disability services, particularly in the areas of education and health," Micheál Martin said.

"I am determined that the Government will respond in a comprehensive way to the needs of the disability sector.

"In addition to that, we need change and reforms.

"It seems to me that several service providers are in difficulty and some are moving out.

"Resourcing will be provided, but we also need to look at the model of provision into the future.

"In my view, the State must take a stronger role in terms of the provision of such services."

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As society evolves from the pandemic, there is a need to modernise the provision of services, Mr Martin believes, acknowledging that it will require additional resources to the more than €2bn currently allocated.

Many people who were formerly in receipt of a full week's support prior to the pandemic are now only receiving one or two days of services per week, the opposition has pointed out.

The disability sector has warned that this is because it does not yet have the additional funding to restore services to full capacity with Covid protocols in place.

Mr Martin said: "Throughout my political life I have worked hard on the disability issue, in particular on special needs education.

"I am determined to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to alleviate the pressures that families and people are currently operating under."

Disability and the need for additional funding has been discussed by the Government in Budget planning.

The Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath is particularly anxious to add finance to this area, as is the Minister of State with responsibility for disability, Anne Rabbitte.

They are said to have received firm backing from Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

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