Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly TD has expressed disappointment following a HSE decision to scrap the rehabilitative training allowance.
The allowance, which is a mere €31.80 a week per student, is designed to help people with disabilities develop life, social and basic work skills so that further education and employment options are more accessible to them.
Deputy Donnelly said, “I find it very disheartening that the government would allow this important, and relatively inexpensive scheme, to be discontinued. This programme is seen as a stepping stone for people with disabilities to move from the education system into a more work-focused environment. It equips them with new skills – both from a social and employment perspective – but it also gives them a confidence boost and a familiarity with a workplace setting.
“Once again we see Fine Gael targeting the most vulnerable. The disability sector is already experiencing serious financial problems – a recent Oireachtas Health Committee meeting was told that disability services across the country are dealing with a deficit of around €30m.
“This latest decision is short-sighted and cruel. It will affect the most vulnerable the most – and the savings will be minimal. I appreciate that the HSE has to operate within its budget – but we are more than half way through the year and its capital plan has still not been published. How can the Minister stand over a cut to an allowance without having published the capital plan?
“There is already a funding crisis in disability services. I am urging the Government not to exacerbate that further”, concluded Deputy Donnelly.