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11|10|2017| Budget 2018: Main points for disability, health and special needs education

11 October 2017
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Epilepsy Ireland welcomes a VAT refund scheme for charities that will be introduced after yesterday's 2018 Budget. This will allow charities to reclaim a portion of their VAT costs based on the level of non-public funding they receive.

The other significant announcements are listed below courtesy of the DFI.

Income and Social Welfare Payments

  • Telephone allowance of €2.50/week for those on fuel allowance and living alone allowance. No discussion of what kind of phone this would cover.
  • Increase in Disability Payments of €5/week 
  • Extend the fuel allowance season by 1 week.
  • Increased funding for the Free Travel Scheme (specific details to be released)
  • Christmas bonus for all social welfare recipients to be paid out at 85%.

Health

  • Allocation for disability services of €1,763m in 2018, an increase of €75m from last year. The extra funding to go on pay adjustments under the Lansdowne Road agreement, on services for 2017, and €15 Million for transition programmes for school leavers with disabilities. Additional funding will also deal with demographic changes relating to residential places, respite places, PA and home supports.
  • Prescription charge for those on the medical card reduced to €2 per item, and the maximum charge to be €20 per month. 
  • Monthly threshold for drug payment scheme reduced from €144 to €134.
  • 1,800 front-line health service personnel to be recruited across the acute, mental health, disability, primary and community care sectors.
  • Allocation of €55m for the NTPF, an increase of €35m. 
  • New access programme for 2017 / 2018: €75m to reduce waiting lists, €37m for home care packages and transitional care beds, and €20m support for hospitals.
  • €25 million for Primary Care to support GP services, expand community intervention teams, and hire more Occupational Therapists.
  • €5m for the Healthy Ireland Fund.
  • €35 million for Mental Health, to implement the Vision for Change (clarification is being sought on this figure) 

Education

  • 10 NEPS psychologists will be recruited in 2018.
  • €2 million for a pilot scheme for in-school speech and language therapy.
  • 100 extra teachers for implement of the new special education teaching model
  • 230 extra teachers in special school and special classes
  • 1,000 new SNAs
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