Intellectual disability services will be cut in 2012

Over the last four years, service providers have done everything possible to prevent cuts impacting on individuals with intellectual disability and their families, but more cuts will make it impossible to protect all frontline services in future, writes Maureen Browne.

On Monday January 16, the HSE 2012 Service Plan was published and in relation to Disability Services stated “that the allocation to disability services will reduce by 3.7 per cent as a consequence of the impact of efficiency, procurement and targeted pay reduction savings.  It also states that, in addition, disability services will be required to cater for demographic pressures, such as new services for school leavers and emergency residential placements, from within their existing budgets”. (HSE National Service Plan 2012 –  Disabilities)

Special OlympicsThe Annual Report of the National Intellectual Disability Database 2010 (NIDD) indicate that there were 26,484 people registered on the NIDD in December 2010. In relation to service requirements, the 2010 data indicates that 4,539 new residential, day and/or residential support places will be required to meet service demands. The following services were identified as being needed in the period 2011-2015 with most services recorded as being immediate.

  • 2,269 full time residential placements
  • 2,045 residential support services
  • 225 day programme places, this figure does not include multidisciplinary support services and services provided by early intervention teams and  841 young adults who, as they approach the age of 18yrs, are preparing to leave education and take up a range of training and supported/sheltered employment opportunities
  • 162 individuals who were living in psychiatric hospitals in 2010

(Ref HRB Statistics Series 13, Annual Report of the National Intellectual Disability Database Committee 2010)

The above figures are for new services and do not include people who require additional or enhanced services.

There has been a cumulative ten per cent cut in funding to voluntary organisations providing services to people with intellectual disability over the period 2008 – 2011.

In September 2011, the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, a national umbrella group for voluntary/non-statutory service providers, carried out a survey of its membership to establish the impact on services of cuts in funding over the period 2008 – 2011.  The survey confirmed the following:

  1. There has been a cumulative ten per cent cut in funding to voluntary organisations providing services to people with intellectual disability over the period 2008 – 2011.
  2. Voluntary organisations absorbed these funding reductions by changes in work practices and significant reductions in administration, management and non pay costs. In so doing frontline services were maintained with minimal disruption.
  3. While budgets have decreased, services have increased.  Voluntary organisations are now doing more with less.  As the population expands, the demand for services continues to grow and this cannot continue to be met with reduced resources.
  4. Service providers have done everything possible to prevent cuts impacting on individuals with intellectual disability and their families.  More cuts will make it impossible to protect all frontline services in future.
  5. Strict implementation of the moratorium on recruitment of frontline staff is having a devastating impact on the ground.

Further cuts in budgets, together with strict implementation of the moratorium on recruitment, will inevitably result in:

  • Reduction in residential services
  • Cuts in day services
  • Reduced respite hours

The Federation of Voluntary Bodies on behalf of its membership, in 2011, offered the HSE that in the absence of further cuts the voluntary organisations would work in partnership with Government and the HSE to ensure that even though the necessary resources will not be available, every effort will be made to respond to emergency requirements regarding school leavers, residential services and early intervention in 2012.

Budget 2012

On Budget Day December 5, 2011, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older Persons, Ms.  Kathleen Lynch, T.D., noted the challenges facing the disability services as a result of reduced resources in 2012.  “An efficiency saving of two per cent is being applied to the budget for disability services in 2012”, the Minister said, “but services will also have to make provision for savings in employment and procurement costs which are required of the health services as a whole next year”.  The Minister also stated that the precise levels of savings required will vary depending on the profile of individual service providers and will be determined within the context of the HSE’s service planning process.  Services will also have to meet anticipated extra demand from within their budgets in 2012.

Further cuts in budgets, together with strict implementation of the moratorium on recruitment, will inevitably result in reduction in residential services, cuts in day services and reduced respite hours

Following the budget announcement, there was much concern and anxiety in the disability sector, at the size of the cuts in funding of between 4.7 per cent – 5.5 per cent, being proposed by the Health Service Executive throughout the country.  Due to these developments, the Federation of Voluntary Bodies sought a meeting with Ministers Dr. James Reilly and Kathleen Lynch and met them on December 15, 2011. At this meeting, both Minsters reaffirmed the Government’s position as announced in Budget 2012, that there would be an efficiency saving of two per cent with additional savings in employment and procurement costs of up to a maximum of 1.5 per cent. In January 2012, we now know that the budget cut is 3.7 per cent and that, in addition, disability services will be required to cater for demographic pressures, such as new services for school leavers and emergency residential placements, from within their existing budgets.

The HSE in the 2012 Service Plan, note that some reductions in services will be unavoidable and will arise in day services, residential and respite services. The aim will be to tailor such reductions in a way that minimises the impact on service users and their families as much as possible.

All service providers will be endeavouring to do everything in their power to minimise the impact on frontline services but regrettably there will be reductions.