The Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to change his Government’s policy in relation to the Domiciliary Care Allowance, after nearly 50% of children with autism and severe special needs lost State support due to Government ‘reviews’.
Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today (Tuesday, 24 April), Deputy Martin accused the Government of a relentless attack on children with special needs. He referred to the hundreds of parents protesting in Dublin and Cork today and demanded an explanation for why the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and all members of Cabinet have been unable to find the time to meet them over the past few months.
“The Government announced over a year ago that it planned to review the domiciliary care allowance in order to reduce costs,” said Deputy Martin. “Since then there has been a relentless assault on children with special needs and the domiciliary care allowance and this is unacceptable and wrong. When this cut is combined with the cut in the family income supplement and in the carer’s allowance, I assure the Taoiseach this is having a devastating impact on the families concerned.”
The Fianna Fáil Leader demanded a full and urgent change in how eligibility for the Domiciliary Care Allowance is assessed.
“I am not talking about a review, I want a change of policy. Since this system moved from the Department of Health to the Department of Social Protection it is clear that there is a deliberate policy afoot to target children with autism by removing their domiciliary care allowance entitlement. It is having a devastating impact on families who up to now have used that money for therapeutic interventions, including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and a range of other special needs therapies. Why is it that the cuts the Taoiseach has initiated are hitting the most vulnerable in our society above and beyond anybody else? I want a change of policy. Will the Taoiseach confirm that he will change the policy as it is being implemented for autistic children?,” asked Deputy Martin.
The Taoiseach rejected the Fianna Fáil Leader’s claims but agreed to raise the matter with the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.