The Chamber of Disabled People said that the plan of the Ministry of Social Affairs to reduce the funding of the organization by 50 percent will result in ruin.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has made a proposal to the Chamber of Disabled People, which connects 272 organizations representing people with disabilities, to look for ways to reduce the amount of operating support, cancel or postpone activities in the extent of up to 50 percent, as gambling tax receipts are expected to decrease. The organizations are seriously concerned that cutting the already insufficient funding will result in several associations vanishing.
Monika Haukanõmm, chairman of the management board of the Chamber of Disabled People, said in a press release: "At a time when the state is discussing supporting the business sector with hundreds of millions, it is unacceptable for a cutting axe to be aimed in the first place at people with disabilities, children and the elderly. If the revenue from gambling decreases by 50 percent and no other sources for covering it can be found, this will mean a cut of almost €600,000 for the network of the Chamber of Disabled People. For smaller organizations representing people with disabilities and the chronically ill, this will result in extinction."
Funding for organizations representing people with disabilities has been inadequate for years and has not kept pace with inflation. For example, the total support for the organizations that have joined the Chamber of Disabled People from gambling tax remained at €950,000 from 2014 to 2019, while the average salary in the country increased by 40 percent. For organizations, operating support constitutes money for surviving, covering the essential costs of premises and part-time and minimum-wage representatives, while most of the organizations do not even have that opportunity.
This year, 272 organizations representing people with disabilities were to receive operating support from gambling tax, which makes the average annual support of an organization €4,007. In the emergency fight against coronavirus, organizations representing people with disabilities have been given a double burden in organizing the work of volunteers, and counseling and information exchange have increased manifold.
"It is incomprehensible that the state considers it expedient to look for places for saving from already insufficient funding. In order to maintain the representation of the most vulnerable target group in society, the state should actively seek alternative ways to secure funding, rather than simply announcing drastic budget cuts," Haukanõmm added.
The Chamber of Disabled People is the longest-running and largest network of civil society, representing the most vulnerable members of society, children with disabilities, adults and their families, and deserves and expects support from the state to survive even in difficult times, the association said.
Editor: Helen Wright