Belfast Telegraph

Charities demand public spending

Charities are demanding that the Government should focus more on spending money on cash-strapped public services rather than tax cuts.

Six national organisations, representing 1,500 disabled, carer, youth and rural charities, say their funding has been slashed by up to 10% in every budget under the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.

The impact has taken it tolls on essential support services for children, older people, people with disabilities, carers and rural communities, they said.

The group - including The Wheel, the Disability Federation of Ireland, Care Alliance Ireland, Irish Rural Link, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and the National Youth Council of Ireland - says the time has come to start public spending again.

John Dolan, chief executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) said a chipping away at financial support has drastically hit the independence and quality of life of people with disabilities.

"DFI calls on the Government to improve vital services and income supports for people with disabilities in Budget 2015," he said.

"In particular, we urge the Government to increase disability services provided in the community to facilitate the independent living of disabled people now and into the future."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has signalled in recent days the Cabinet's plan to cut taxes over the coming three years, starting with the 52% marginal tax rate on income.

Government ministers are locked in negotiations about spending plans.

Tanaiste Joan Burton said today the country was in its best position for six years, but warned careful and prudent decisions still had to be taken to keep the recovery on track.

"The money is limited," she said.

The Wheel, which represents more than 1,000 charitable organisations across the country, said charities want to sit down with ministers to develop a plan for funding services for some of the most vulnerable in society.

It carried out research earlier this year which showed falling income for six in ten charities over the past year, while at the same time two thirds reported a surge in demand for their services.

More than a third of charities polled for the study had to cut back or suspend services over the past year.

Ivan Cooper, director of advocacy at The Wheel said the Government has detailed plans to balance the national accounts, but no plan to protect public services.

"Recent Budgets have focused on achieving sustainability in our public finances, but we must acknowledge that this has come at an enormous cost for those who rely on public services," he said.

"The protection and restoration of public services should now take precedence over tax cuts."

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