Written Answers. - Independent Living Fund.

Michael Ring

Question:

497 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Finance if he will allocate funding from the Exchequer sur plus towards the establishment of an independent living fund for people with disabilities. [1470/99]

The allocations approved by the Government for 1999 were set out on budget day. In taking decisions on taxation and spending for 1999, I have aimed for a substantial surplus, in the interest of the prudent management of the economy. Running a budgetary surplus during a period of exceptional growth is entirely appropriate. It reduces the costs of debt servicing thereby releasing resources for more productive use in the future, helps us to meet our obligations under the EU Stability and Growth Pact to keep our budget close to balance or in surplus, and places us in a position to deal with the challenges posed by lower growth and an aging population in the next century.

The overall provision of funding for services for people with disabilities, within the allocation to the Department of Health and Children decided on by Government, is a matter in the first instance for my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children. I understand that priorities for allocation of this funding, on a regional basis, for the expanding range of support services for people with disabilities, are decided by health boards in consultation with, among others, voluntary service agencies, including centres for independent living, and service users.