The decision not to reinstate a vital training allowance for school leavers with a disability by allocating funding in the budget ‘is a cruel blow’, Louth TD Imelda Munster has said.
The Sinn Féin representative earlier this summer highlighted the HSE’s announcement to cut the Rehabilitative Training Allowance for attendees of the National Learning Network’s courses across the State, including at facilities at the Ramparts, Carroll Village and Wilton House in Dundalk.
Participants on the courses, which teaches living and social skills to school leavers with disabilities, were due to be given an additional €31.80 per week, like their counterparts who are already on similar educational programmes.
But the decision by the HSE to cut the funding to new participants, including to around six in Dundalk, drew strong reaction from disability campaigners around the State and a high-profile campaign for its reinstatement, started by the young people affected, was brought to the gates of Leinster House.
Ms Munster said it was shocking that the government had not used the opportunity of Budget 2020 to correct ‘this huge injustice’.
She said: ‘The government has chosen to ignore the pleas from the young people, disability campaigners and politicians like myself who have called on them to reinstate the training allowance. They have taken money straight out of the pockets of those who need it the most – the young people who are starting courses in Dundalk and elsewhere who already have to overcome significant disadvantage in their lives.
‘Last month, campaigners brought a solution to this issue, which would have seen the training allowance restored for all new participants, while the government carried out a timely review into how the allowance should be paid in future.
‘The advocate groups said that if the review suggested that another agency, such as Solas, should manage the allowance, then they would accept that.
‘But Wednesday’s budget contained no hope for these school leavers in Dundalk and the decision to cut the allowance, which saves a measly €250,000 this year, stands.
‘It is shocking, non-sensical and a cruel blow’.