Wednesday 22 January 2020

People with disabilities lose 'pocket money' in charity cuts

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

SCORES of people with a disability are having their 'pocket money' axed by a leading charity in a cost-cutting move.

The Daughters of Charity, which provides services for people with an intellectual disability in Limerick, wants to save €129,000 this year.

The cuts marks the end of the small tokens of around €13 a week, which were seen as a means of boosting the esteem of those involved in daily workshops at the Lisnagry service.

Although the practice is regarded as somewhat outdated, many looked forward to the cash, which they spent on treats such as trips to the cinema.

The 'pocket money' cut is just one of a number the charity -- funded with €28.1m annually by the HSE -- has introduced in a bid to tackle a €1.1m deficit.

Other measures include the introduction of a €22 charge on parents for overnight respite care for children and a €30 weekly fee for the minibus transfer of people from their homes to day-care centres.

The axing of the pocket money comes in the wake of revelations by the Irish Independent that officials -- involved in a review of the €1.5bn spent on disability services -- have been denied information about the remuneration packages of charity chief executives.

An internal memo revealed that some Department of Health officials believe some chief executives are receiving undisclosed salary top-ups.

A spokesman for the Daughters of Charity said yesterday that neither current chief executive Denis Cronin nor his recently retired predecessor Walter Freyne received any bonus.

He said the salary was "in line with public sector scales" but declined to say how much it was or whether it was subject to a pay cut.

Axing the 'pocket money' and other measures were part of a 13-point 'menu' of savings outlined in a HSE briefing document for the Limerick service last year as it faced a cash crisis.


One of the measures considered, but not acted on, was a proposal to introduce rolling closures of respite care, which would have seen the shutting down of the service for adults and children on alternate weeks. Other options included proposals to cut or suspend day services and charge a number of home residents who are not paying.

The spokesman declined to say if options such as dropping agency staff and introducing charges for two children who had received compensation awards were followed up.

The future of the daily bus service to day centres is now in jeopardy, causing serious distress to families of people with an intellectual disability who live in rural areas and have no other form of transport.

The spokesman added: "The last three years have been particularly challenging.''

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News