Minister McGrath today published the Report of the Task Force on Personalised Budgets “Towards Personalised Budgets for People with a Disability in Ireland”. The report sets out how personalised budgets could work as a funding mechanism for people with a disability, providing them with greater choice and control over the services and supports they receive.

The Task Force was established in September 2016 by Minister Finian McGrath, and chaired by Christy Lynch. The Task Force, having reviewed the national and international research evidence and consulted with service users and their families, recommended that the Department of Health and the HSE should establish demonstration projects to test the delivery of personalised budgets with a view to identifying the best approach to the wider roll-out of these payment models following the initial demonstration phase.

Speaking today the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said “We know from research that, for those people who choose to use a personalised budget, they can provide a very profound and meaningful improvement to peoples’ lives. People with disabilities should be afforded every opportunity to realise their potential. We must ensure that people with disabilities have the supports to achieve their life goals and this is a large part of what this Report is about. It is clear from the report that a huge amount of work has gone into researching personalised budgets and a very helpful public consultation took place. This work has helped to produce a report which is evidence based and importantly, includes the experiences and voices of services users and their loved ones.”

Commenting on the report Minister McGrath said “I am wholeheartedly committed to making progress on the delivery of the actions in the Task Force report this year. The Report highlights how important choice and control are for people with disabilities and I am happy to commit my Department and the HSE to working to test these models to improve supports for people with disabilities, which should have an enormous positive benefit to their lives and their valuable participation in society.”

Work has already begun on a number of actions and funding of €1.3 million has been secured from the Department of Health budget for the set up and administration costs of demonstration projects, which were a key recommendation of the Task Force.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, said, “I welcome the publication of the report and want to give my full support to its recommendations. I have long believed this is an essential option for people with disabilities. Along with the Taoiseach, and all of our colleagues in Government, I am very much looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes of the demonstration projects for people with disabilities when they conclude. I want to thank Minister McGrath for his leadership and hard work to bring about today’s report.”

The Chair of the Task Force, Christy Lynch, said “I want to extend my sincere thanks to every member of the Task Force for their hard work, dedication and commitment to ensure that people with disabilities have more choice and control in how they are supported. The rationale for testing three models is a recognition of the fact that no two people are the same and therefore, ‘One size does not fit all’. We recommend that each of these models be tested and evaluated within two years of the publication of the Task Force Report to inform a wider roll out of personalised budgets in Ireland.”

The demonstration projects are expected to begin roll out in late 2018 and will take two years to complete and evaluate. The initial demonstration projects will test a range of issues such as different payment options, the costs of operating a personalised budget for the individual, quality assurance, employment issues, and financial sustainability of personalised budgets in the Irish context.