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'Budget 2015 needs to give struggling families the peace and security they're entitled to'

An alliance of charities are calling for cuts to be reversed before tax breaks are introduced.
Sep 24th 2014, 6:15 AM 4,925 10

A GROUP OF charities made a joint call yesterday for funding to services to be restored before any tax cuts are introduced in Budget 2015.

They have put forward a number of case studies to demonstrate just how much pressure some families are under.

One of these is Jane and Eamon, who live in Co Westmeath with two young children.

Their situation has changed dramatically in recent years after Jane was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“As well as learning to live with the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of her condition, the extra expenses are bearing a significant impact on their family life,” the Disability Federation said.

Almost half of their monthly disposable income is spent on costs incurred through disability alone.

This breaks down as follows:

  • Childcare costs per month – €800
  • Medication and equipment – €160
  • Physiotherapy – €360 (four weekly sessions at €60 each)
  • Heating – €120
  • Total – €1,440

Other costs range from home alterations, an electric wheelchair, specialised mattresses, continence products, childcare costs.

“The financial pressure brought about by these and the many other costs induces further stress for Jane and Eamon, who, as a result, cannot socialise or enjoy leisure activities with their children as they would like.”

Budget 2015 must invest in families like Jane and Eamon’s, protecting the services and supports which enable them to live with the security and independence they are entitled to.

Another case study from the Care Alliance details how a small increase in the respite care grant could relieve some pressure on its members.

Nuala cares for her mother who has Huntingtons Disease. This is a hereditary neurological disorder that causes brain cell degeneration.

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The symptoms are wide-ranging, affecting areas such speech, movement, decision making, mental felixbility, temper control, and more.

Nuala said that since the respite care grant cut, things have become more difficult for her.

“Since the grant was reduced my life as a carer has got harder, having to work out every cent,” she said.

I’m not asking for the grant to go up massively, but even if it went up to €1500 [from €1375] it would really take the pressure off.

She said the money is used not just for respite care, which her mother receives four days a week every two months, but also day-to-day living costs such as medication – something else which they’ve had to cut down on.

Six charities yesterday called on the government to implement a cross-departmental strategy to return funding to them, warning that the “social fabric” of Ireland was in danger.

Read: Charities don’t want to see tax cuts in the Budget >

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Nicky Ryan


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