Following the surprise cuts to housing supports this week MS Ireland joins other representative groups for people with disabilities and the elderly across the country in criticising the move.
The cuts affect people with disabilities in two areas: the housing adaptation and the mobility aids grants. What this means for people with MS is that it will be more difficult than ever to make the necessary adaptations to their homes.
This unprecendented announcement has once again placed the spotlight on the increase in cuts to services for the most vulnerable in our society.
The Department of the Environment issued a circular to local authorities on Monday night stating that the changes should take immediate effect.
The main changes affecting people with disabilities are:
1. Income of all household members over 18 years (over 23 if in full time education) will now be included in the means assessment for these grants. Previously only the income of the applicant and their spouse was considered.
2. Under the housing adapation and housing aid schemes, the number of income bands is reduced from 9 to 6 and households in the lowest band with an income of €30,000 or less, who were previously entitled to 100% of the cost of the work, will now only get 95%.
3. The upper income limit to be eligible for these schemes has been reduced to €60,000, making those with an income over this figure ineligible.
MS Ireland spokesperson Miriam Taber said, "People with disabilities in Ireland have been hit by severe cuts to services in the past few years and this is yet another contradiction to the government's stated goal of keeping people in their own houses for longer. With continued cuts to the most vulnerable in our society people will be left with little other choice than to live in residential care."