Written Answers. - Independent Living Fund.

Michael Ring

Question:

552 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when he will establish an independent living fund for people with disabilities in view of the Exchequer surplus. [1473/99]

The establishment of an independent living fund has been proposed by the Centre for Independent Living. An independent living fund is a means of funding a personal assistance service to enable people with disabilities to live independently within the community.

The personal assistance service is part of a range of support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. My policy is to develop the range of services as a whole in accordance with the recommendations of the report of the review group on health and personal social services for people with physical and sensory disabilities, Towards an Independent Future.

This Government, in its first eighteen months in office, provided a total of £22.4 million for the maintenance and development of services in the sector including capital developments. Of this, £3 million additional revenue was provided in 1998 specifically for the development of the services, including personal support and assistance services.

Out of a total of £13.4 million provided this year, £3 million revenue, equalling £6 million on a full year cost basis in the year 2000, is for the development of services. I have no plans at present to introduce an independent living fund, as proposed by the Centre for Independent Living, as a means of funding the personal assistance service. Priorities for the allocation of development funding are decided by the health boards in consultation with the co-ordinating committee for physical and sensory disability services. Voluntary sector services agencies, including Centres for Independent Living and services users are represented on such committees.