Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says new figures released to him confirm the Government’s ruthless review of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) continues apace.
In correspondence with Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, it was revealed to Deputy O’Dea that in the first six months of 2012, 2,752 new applications were processed for the DCA of which 1,663 were refused. This represents a 60% refusal rate.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “The Government instigated a ruthless review of the DCA towards the end of last year, we now see over half of the children with autism and severe intellectual disabilities losing their payments without warning. This is totally unacceptable.
“This is a desktop review carried out in Dublin with no medical examination whatsoever. The families are asked to submit medical records along with their application, which just seems to be dismissed in a lot of cases. I know of families that have had doctors telling them their child’s condition has worsened since last year and they were still refused.”
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 and intellectual disabilities. This campaign has been conducted in a very underhanded manner, families are losing the DCA without personal interaction.
“In a lot of cases these families need extra assistance and the benefit is 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. 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 of the system in 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 affected by the DCA cuts and parents have had no input into changes in the system. This must change.”