It has been decided that funding to People with Disabilities in Ireland (PWDI) must cease at the end of 2011.  Speaking in relation to the decision, Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People stated, "I am currently overseeing the finalisation of a major Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services of the Department of Health to ensure that existing funding allocated for people with disabilities is spent to best effect."  The Government must ensure in 2012, and continuing thereafter, that funding is allocated for maximum provision of services for people with disabilities, having regard to overall resource constraints which affect all sectors at this time.

On the basis of a value for money review it has been clearly established that the vast majority of the money allocated to PWDI is being spent disproportionately.  The largest proportion of PWDI’s annual budget has been spent on the operation of its office headquarters and on administration rather than on the creation of programmes and services which would directly benefit people with disabilities.  This was an untenable situation that could not be allowed to continue as people with disabilities were benefiting very little from the allocation in real terms.

"It is my duty as Minister to ensure that the focus and the target of the budget should be on people with disabilities themselves.  It is my intention to work on the creation of programmes and services which will directly benefit people with disabilities and maximize the budget allocation and spending to their best advantage.  Essentially I want to ensure that people with disabilities will receive a better quality service by focusing the available resources on groups and organisations that provide services for people with disabilities.

I am conscious that the Commission Report on the Status of People with Disabilities identified the need for funding to support a representative group to promote the disability perspective and ensure the voice of disabled people is heard.  PWDI has been the vehicle for that perspective until now but based on recent reviews of PWDI it has been clearly established that a new mechanism is required to deliver the perspective of people with disability as service users.  I am working diligently to ensure people with disabilities will continue to have a platform in that regard."

The Minister added, "I have just set up and am personally chairing a new National Disability Strategy Implementation Group to develop and progress a new Implementation Plan for the strategy.  This new group will include representation from a number of disability stakeholder organisations and also a number of people with disabilities whom I have personally nominated and who will be able to bring their lived experience directly to bear on the very important work of this high level group.  This will ensure the voice and perspective of people with disabilities will continue to be heard in a more focused and cost effective way."

The Minister concluded, "There is no reason why the local PWDI networks around the country should not continue to be active as a volunteer body and continue their work with people with disabilities.  As voluntary groups they will also add value to achieving the inclusion of people with disabilities in Irish society.  Other streams of funding may be considered in this regard."

25 November 2011