Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

235 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the serious position concerning waiting lists for services for the intellectually disabled as a direct result of the recent budget, to the great fear and anxiety parents have for the continued wellbeing of their intellectually disabled family member, and to the fact that there is no funding allocated for new service developments in 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2853/03]

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

239 Mr. O'Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the grave concerns of parents and families of children and adults with intellectual disability regarding budget 2003 as conveyed to local Dáil Deputies; if his attention has further been drawn to their needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2857/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235 and 239 together.

I am aware of the concerns regarding the provision of services to persons with an intellectual disability and those with autism. Additional funding of €13.3 million has been allocated to services for persons with an intellectual disability or autism in 2003 to meet the full year cost of the 2002 developments and to further enhance the health related support services to children with an intellectual disability or autism. This funding is in addition to the very significant revenue investment, amounting to €188 million, which has been made in these services since 1997 and which is built into the ongoing budget base. The additional funding provided by this and the previous Government between 2000 and 2002 was used to put in place, in addition to a range of other services, over 900 new residential, 380 new respite and around 2,000 new day places for people with an intellectual disability and those with autism.
Despite this very significant investment, demographic factors are contributing to growing waiting lists for residential services in particular even though the numbers of people in receipt of services, including full time residential services, continues to increase. The increased birth rate in the 1960s and 1970s has resulted in large numbers of adults in their late 20s and early 30s requiring full-time residential services. In addition people with an intellectual disability are living longer than previously adding to the need for services compared to previous generations. This has also been the international experience in service provision to this population.
The overall economic position in 2003 has had implications for all aspects of public investment, and this is reflected in the Estimates and budget adopted by the Government for 2003. Within this overall framework, however, some two-thirds of the additional funding available for non-capital investment in services has been allocated to the health services. This funding is being applied largely to maintaining existing levels of service across all service programmes including services for people with an intellectual disability. While it is regrettable that the level of investment in these services achieved in recent years could not be maintained in 2003, my Department will work closely with the health boards and other service providers in relation to service provision this year.