Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says the Government’s ruthless review of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) has again targeted the families most in need of assistance.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “The Government instigated a review of the DCA towards the end of last year, which resulted over half of the children with autism and severe intellectual disabilities losing their payments without warning.
“Between last year and the end of June this year, 281families in receipt of the DCA have now been refused the allowance with only 262 still eligible. What’s even more concerning is that 366 families are still awaiting a decision, which adds even more strain and worry to them.
“The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is now considering a second review, which could result in more children losing their DCA.”
Deputy O’Dea added that the Minister needs to explain the surge in the number of welfare claimants who have suddenly been denied payments without reasonable explanation.
“There is a ruthless review going on and it seems to be specifically targeted at children with autism. This campaign has been conducted in a very sneaky manner, families are losing the DCA without personal interaction, all done behind some desktop in Dublin.
“In a lot of cases these families need extra assistance and they then are cut without warning, which is extremely distressing for all involved. This is nothing more than a process of punishing families with disabled children, once the DCA is cut these families also risk losing their respite care grant and the carer’s allowance.
“The Ombudsman herself has raised this as a particular issue of concern. Thousands of children with severe intellectual disabilities have suddenly lost their DCA entitlements in a so called ‘review’ that failed to take into account medical evidence of the severity of their disabilities.
“Minister Burton must come clean about what is going on here. She and her Department have failed to properly communicate with those welfare recipients that have suddenly lost entitlements.
“Fianna Fáil has called for a complete overhaul in the system of assessing children for the DCA. At the moment, the system clearly discriminates against children with intellectual disabilities. So far this Government has refused to listen to families affects by the DCA cuts and parents have had no input into changes in the system. This must change.”