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    Services for handicapped persons beset by problems

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The assistance that government services provide for handicapped persons is disastrous despite promises of improvement by the minister concerned, Kris Peeters, according to academics and field experts quoted by De Morgen on Thursday. Files often remain unprocessed, allowances are paid late, applicants for special handicapped parking have long waits and contacting the relevant officials by telephone is often impossible. The General Directorate for Handicapped Persons seems to be experiencing difficulties for years now, and Minister Peeters had promised that things would be better. This month concrete measures should be taken to bring about some order in all this.

    At first glance, this seems to be the case. The minister did, in fact, declare that the heap of files from people waiting for compensation for which a medical examination is required went down from 34,583 to 28,446. However, in January, the target was reset from 28,000 to 25,000 files. According to the minister’s cabinet, January’s figures were different because they had not yet been updated.

    People involved at the grassroot level feel the General Directorate’s assessment lacks transparency.

    “Few figures have been made public and the method changes suddenly,” noted Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Social Law Professor Daniel Dumont. “How can you tell if there is any improvement?”

    An official in the Social Security Department said staff were never informed of assessments. The results of an external audit conducted last year, for example, were never released internally, he said. However, the head of the General Directorate countered that data was corrected transparently

    “We’ve been reproached for not communicating,” André Gubbels said. People who work hard have no time to communicate. Our efforts are focused on absorbing the number of files.”

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times