Written Answers. - Physical and Sensory Disabilities.

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

329 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will make emergency funding available in 2003 over and above the allocated ?5.9 million, to address the core deficits of ?11 million identified by the health boards, including a core deficit of ?815,000 in respect of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland alone, in respect of an association (details supplied) comprising the nine leading service providers in the physical and sensory disability sector. [16977/03]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

336 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if the under funding of physical and sensory disability agencies (details supplied) will be resolved; and if the maximum support can by given to the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. [16458/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 329 and 336 together.

My Department has recently advised the Not for Profit Business Association of an additional allocation of €5.85 million to relieve the under funding of its member organisations, including the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

Further claims amounting to more than €5 million have been made by the association and these claims are being considered by my Department, in consultation with the Eastern Regional Health Authority, the health boards and the association itself, having regard to the availability of funds. Additional claims for extra staff numbers will also be considered in the light of available resources.

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 disabilities. 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 service provision this year.

John Perry

Ceist:

330 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the under funding that exists for members of the Not for Profit Business Association; the steps he will take to ensure that adequate funding is put in place to address the core deficits and to ensure that the needs of the 40,000 clients of the association are being prioritised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16376/03]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

332 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if there will be a further allocation in 2003 to address the core funding deficits for service providers in the physical and sensory deprivation sector organised in the Not for Profit Business Association; and his plans to meet staffing shortages amongst these organisations as promised. [16398/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 330 and 332 together.

My Department has recently advised the Not for Profit Business Association of an additional allocation of €5.85 million to relieve the under funding of its member organisations.

Further claims amounting to more than €5 million have been made by the association and these claims are being considered by my Department, in consultation with the Eastern Regional Health Authority, the health boards and the association itself, having regard to the availability of funds. Additional claims for extra staff numbers will also be considered in the light of available resources.
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 disabilities. 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 on service provision this year.