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Budget Statement 2013

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Snippet Contents:

This budget is a grave attack on children, families, the disabled and our senior citizens. It is a budget steeped in unfairness and full of broken promises, especially from the Labour Party. It is also a budget of the wrong choices for our citizens and it is steeped in inequality. Let the lesson be today that this Government has broken many promises, especially as it knows full well the economic reality for many families on the ground. It will go down in history as a budget that pushed many people over the edge, with a lack of vision, compassion and economic reality. People are hurting but the Government put the boot in even harder to families, carers, the disabled, the unemployed, small businesses and our senior citizens.
The facts in today's budget speak for themselves. Child benefit will be reduced by €10 per month, another broken promise. The respite care grant is being reduced by €325. The changes in the household benefits package will see cuts of up to €20 million. There are increases in the drugs payment scheme threshold and charges for medical card holders. In education, there are increases in the student contribution by €250 in 2013, 2014 and 2015. That is the reality of this budget, the reality of what happened today in the Dáil. The VECs will be cut by another €13 million in 2013. These schools serve many disadvantaged pupils.
The prescription charge for medical card holders is being increased from 50 cent to €1.50 per item, with the monthly cap for a family rising from €10 to €19.50. The drug payment scheme threshold is being increased from €132 to €144, a cut of up to €10 million. People who are over 70 will have their medical cards replaced with a GP-only card. This is all part of today's budget. Health and disabilities have been slashed once again.
I notice the Minister mentioned the Croke Park agreement in his speech, which I support. For many people the reality of the Croke Park agreement is very difficult. For St. Michael's House, which provides disability services, the most significant challenge it faces is the waiting list for residential care, which is the longest in the country. There are 317 people on the priority list for residential services. Some 45 of these families are in serious difficulties and significant pressure is being exerted on the organisation to provide residential services for this group. Currently, there are 283 adults with an intellectual disability living with one or more parent who is over 70. That is the reality - adults with intellectual disability in their 40s and 50s whose parents are dead or too elderly to cope, and there are 45 such families on the emergency waiting list.