Belfast Telegraph

Funding for disability and community services to be debated

Grant-aided organisations which provide disability and community services are known as Section 38 and 39 bodies.

Funding for disability and community services is to be debated (PA)
Funding for disability and community services is to be debated (PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Funding for disability and community services is to be debated in the Dail.

Grant-aided organisations which provide disability and community services, known as Section 38 and 39 bodies, have been embroiled in disagreements with the HSE over resources and funding for a number of years.

Sinn Fein health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly, who once represented the groups as a trade union official, published a Sinn Fein motion on Tuesday morning, due to be debated in the Dail.

“For some time now we have been raising the issue of these workers, who have really been left behind somewhat. There’s a massive issue with pay inequality and staffing shortages and other issues,” Ms O’Reilly said.

I think if we examine the work done by Section 38 and 39 agencies, that work is incredibly valuable and without pay restoration we know that those services are under quite a lot of stress Louise O'Reilly, Sinn Fein health spokeswoman

A lot of the agencies had their pay cut under The Financial Emergency Measures in Public Interests (FEMPI) legislation, however Ms O’Reilly says there is now a disparity between the two sections.

The Section 38 agencies have received pay restoration along with all other public service personnel. However, those employed in Section 39 bodies had not, due to being part grant-aided organisations.

Section 39 organisations and their staff are not seen as public bodies and their workers are not seen as public sector employees by the government.

“I’m in the unique position as I was the union official representing them at the time, and back then the government said the very opposite, that they did have a link,” Ms O’Reilly added.

“It’s really not fair to say, ‘you only have a link when we’re cutting your pay, but you don’t have a link when you’re looking for pay restoration’.

“I think if we examine the work done by Section 38 and 39 agencies, that work is incredibly valuable and without pay restoration we know that those services are under quite a lot of stress.

“There is a shortage of healthcare professionals. We’re losing a lot of staff to the private sector and abroad, and something needs to be done.

“I think this enjoys broad support. There isn’t a TD who doesn’t have one of these agencies in their constituencies, who wouldn’t be willing to laud the work done by these men and women every single day of the week.”

The motion “calls for adequate engagement with, and resourcing of, the not-for-profit care sector, in addition to calling for pay restoration for workers in Section 39 organisations”.

The party is also calling for a forum to be established so that stakeholders and service users can have an opportunity to have their say.

An Oireachtas health committee heard from the HSE in 2017, that it had not received money from government to allow organisations which it funds to restore pay cuts imposed after the economic crash.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph