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Flemish government shifts disability budget: what changes?

Minister for Welfare and Public Health, Wouter Beke, has shifted the existing budgets to clear up 1,700 more places. Credit: Pixabay

2,300 Flemish people with disabilities who are at the top of the waiting list will receive money for specialised help due to adjustments in the budget, the Flemish government said.

The Flemish Minister for Welfare and Public Health, Wouter Beke, has shifted the existing budget to clear up 1,700 more places from the waiting list than initially estimated. This legislature, an extra €300 million was foreseen for the care of people with disabilities, which is comparable to what was added by the previous government.

Beke has not created extra budget, but shifted how the initial money will be distributed. If he kept using the same system the previous government used, only the 647 most urgent cases would be able to count on government support, and no budget would be left for the 15,583 people on the waiting list, reports VRT.

The measures taken by the previous government primarily gave care to about 10,000 people with disabilities who were “automatically” entitled to support, without a waiting list. This mostly concerns people in acute emergency situations, for example, people whose parents have died, causing them to fall without family support.

However, Beke has chosen to adjust the budgets, meaning that those who have been receiving money because of the previous system will, in the future, receive a little bit less from this government in some cases. That way, according to Beke, more people on the waiting list can also be helped.

The most drastic change is that people with a disability staying in an institution five days a week will no longer immediately receive a higher budget for a seven-day stay, but will be put on the waiting list before they receive a higher budget.

Additionally, young people with a disability will have to wait until they are 21 to switch from the support, daycare or stay in a multifunctional centre to a personal budget for housing support, for example. The initial plan was to reduce this age to 18, but that will no longer happen. Beke stressed that this will only concern people with disabilities who still have to start a procedure, as acquired rights will not be touched on.

“We are not taking anything away, but we want to help as many people who are not being helped yet, or are being helped too little, as we can,” said Beke, reports De Tijd.

Due to this shift in budget, 1,673 extra people (bringing the total up to 2,320) on the waiting list who are most urgently in need of help, will be able to receive financial support. Combined with the 10,000 automatic allocations that were already expected, a total of 12,320 people with disabilities will receive financial support from this Flemish government over the next five years.

However, this does not mean that the waiting lists will become shorter, only that they will possibly not grow as fast. Today, 15,583 people with a disability are waiting for (increased) financial support from the Flemish government, but those numbers are expected to increase to 24,900 by 2024, according to estimations.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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