Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the Government’s cuts to the provision of home improvement and mobility grants for the elderly and disabled as a vicious assault on the living standards of one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after the contents of a Department of the Environment circular to Local Authorities only became public today.
The circular outlines a range of new restrictive measures which will make it increasingly difficult for many elderly or disabled people to remain living independently in their own homes. The changes affect three grants: the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability, housing aid for older people and the mobility aids grant.
Local authorities were notified by the department on Monday and told to implement them immediately.
“These cuts and the new restrictive conditions which are coming into effect represent an appallingly regressive intervention in to the ability of our elderly and disabled community to live independent lives to the maximum extent possible.
“Minister Jan O’Sullivan who is pushing through these changes can talk all she likes about targeting limited resources; but the reality is that her Government has made the political choices which have made such ‘limited resources’ a brutal characteristic of how this Government deals with the elderly and the sick in our communities. There are serious questions to be asked too in relation to how this matter has been brought to light. The secretive and under-handed manner in which this information was communicated, or more accurately, withheld from local authorities until the last possible moment is completely unacceptable.”
Groups representing the elderly like Age Action Ireland have responded to the news by saying that it is now certain that 2014 will be a year in which many elderly people will find it increasingly difficult to remain mobile and independent, a move which will increase pressure on hospitals and nursing homes throughout the Country:
“Last week we had the betrayal of those suffering from mental illness with the announcement of a €15 million cut to the Mental Health Budget, this week we have a betrayal of our elderly and infirm. What these approaches are clearly telling us is that there is no sense in Government of how both these policies are coming together to create a huge deficit in our commitment to social solidarity.
Minister Kathleen Lynch wants people out of mental hospitals and into the community and today Minister O’Sullivan has implemented moves which will force elderly people out of their communities into hospitals. The whole thing is a farce from top to bottom. I am calling for an immediate review into how these cuts and restrictive provisions are going to impact people on the ground,” said Deputy McGrath