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Financial Resolutions 2017

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Financial Resolution No. 2: General (Resumed)

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Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee)

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Snippet Contents:

This is the first budget of the new partnership Government. It is also the first budget comprised of input from members of all parties and Independents in this House through the Committee on Budgetary Oversight. This is a new and positive move.
The context of the budget is the need for fairness. We must see a matching social recovery to mirror the economic recovery and give people a sense of hope and certainty. That is why the balance of spending is 2:1 in favour of public services. Again, this spending must be prudent and sustainable or we risk giving false hope and having to cut back again if times become tough internationally.
Throughout tough economic times in this country we have continued to invest in mental health services. Between 2012 and this year, funding increased by€150 million, or 16.25%. In budget 2017 the investment of recent years in mental health services will be consolidated and increased. I am pleased to say €35 million for new services will be initiated in 2017. This is in addition to the €35 million provided in 2016 which remains in the base of the funding. As in previous years and anticipating that projects initiated next year will not all be completed in that calendar year, I have decided to allocated capital funding of over €50 million for the award of the contract for the construction of the new national forensic mental health service in Portrane, the total cost of which will be in excess of €115 million. This major capital project will include a new 120-bed hospital, two new ten-bed units for mental health intellectual disability and mental health child and adolescent services. It is a huge step in the bid to bring services into the 21st century. Overall, €74.7 million in additional funding will be spent on mental health services next year.
It is also my objective to be able to allow older people to make their own choices in as much as possible. This will require the provision of a range of services and supports to allow them to remain in their own homes and communities for as long as they can, ensuring that if and when the time comes, affordable and quality residential care will be available to them. As the Minister has pointed out, the nursing home support scheme will be funded to the tune of €940 million in 2017, which will allow waiting times for placement following approval of funding to remain at a maximum of four weeks. Overall funding for services for older people has increased to €765 million, an €82 million increase on the amount provided in last year's service plan. This funding is focused on additional provision of home care services to ensure older people can remain in their homes and facilitate the discharge of older people from acute hospitals.
Two thirds of the €40 million provided for the winter initiative 2016-17 is being spent on social care services, home care packages and transitional care beds which cater primarily for older people. The budget provides for a continuation of the €30 million provision and the provision of an additional €10 million for home care packages in 2017. Further details will be announced in the service plan when work on it has been completed in the coming weeks.
The budget matches vision with prudence and progress with sustainability. It represents stage one in the three-year agreement of the partnership Government and the collective work of all parties but most especially the work of Fine Gael and its Independent colleagues who have taken responsibility in government and are not seeking credit from the sidelines. I thank the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, for their work on the budget which I commend to the House.