New coalition of front line disability service providers demand urgent response to €20 million funding crisis.


Tuesday, December 3rd 2019

Nine frontline disability service providers today called on the Government to resolve the funding crisis which they say is threatening the future of their services.

The Disability Action Coalition, made up of nine household names who provide services for around 65,000 adults and children with physical, intellectual, sensory and mental health disabilities, said that the funding crisis facing their organisations is already jeopardising their services, with some having been forced to cut back on services in order to stay afloat.

A survey conducted by the Coalition has today revealed a staggering €20million shortfall across the nine frontline disability organisations providing these critical services.

The Coalition, which is made up of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, Cheshire Ireland, Chime, Enable Ireland, Headway, Irish Wheelchair Association, MS Ireland, NCBI and Rehab Group, say they need €20m extra a year between them to resolve their immediate funding deficits.

All of these organisations are funded under Section 39 of the Health Act, a designation which means that they are not funded to meet the full costs of pay restoration, insurance, regulation, or training. For many, this means that they have been forced to use their reserves and some are carrying a financial deficit for some time, leaving them vulnerable.

John O’Sullivan, CEO of Enable Ireland, a member of the Coalition said: “We have been left behind while the rest of the country is catching up after the cuts of the recession years. This lack of funding is crippling our ability to respond to the needs of people with disabilities.”

He and the other CEOs in the Coalition are calling for:

  • An additional €20m a year to eliminate the deficits they are carrying
  • The implementation of the relevant recommendations of the Independent Review Group on the status of Section 39 organisations including multi-annual funding
  • Recognition of the unique role played by Section 39 organisations which are flexible, responsive and good value for money
  • Funding for the full cost of pay restoration to Section 39 staff.

The Coalition has begun a lobbying campaign to secure commitments from all political parties ahead of the next General Election. They will be mobilising the families of the 65,000 people using their services, as well as staff and the people themselves to press for their demands to be agreed to.

“A new funding model is required as well as a recognition of the unique role of the Section 39-funded disability service providers”, said Mr. O’Sullivan.

“We are being squeezed between state funded services and private providers, with all the obligations of state services but with none of their advantages and supports, especially funding”, he said.

“What’s not being recognised is that organisations like ours have a unique and valuable role to play in delivering vital services, and that we are flexible, innovative and excellent value for money. Putting our future at risk makes no sense”, he said.

The Coalition members say that unless their immediate needs are met, the future of their services will be at risk.