Half a person keeps track of the budget… and then you have to be grateful?

Simon, known from Down The Road, has been on the waiting list for a personal budget for 5 years. With such a budget, he would be able to afford the support needed to live more independently. However, like 1,100 other people, he recently earned only half of that budget. His mother wrote us a poignant testimony, which we then supplement with an additional word of explanation about the experience, perspectives, and the possibility of appeal.

Half a budget

It should have been a happy moment when the long-awaited letter from VAPH (Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities) about Simon’s personal budget arrived in our mailbox at the beginning of November. But it turned out differently. Because that letter states that Simon (after six years of waiting!) will only get half of the budget he’s officially allocated in 2017. Half!”

Officially, the government calls it an “experiment.” With my kid as a test animal on a quiz to see how far we can go with half the budget. Whereas the government itself budgeted for us six years ago on the basis of a huge dossier that we submitted after a long and intense process with Simon’s network of family, friends, neighbors, counselors and doctors to objectively record Simon’s care needs. A person does not have to be able to calculate well to know that with this half of the budget we can only provide half of the care needs. For the other half, we must therefore, as we have done all our lives, continue to rely on our network. A network that dwindles more and more, because the grandparents are getting older and the ‘nannies’ get involved in the meantime building up their home, garden, and kids.”

Fortunately for Simon, there is a non-profit organization HONK, a mother project for thirteen disabled youth, where we as parents share budgets in solidarity. Which means that HONKers with a full budget “pay” to HONKers without a budget. Because they have long put their budget into the solidarity basket, They will also remain partially dependent on their (vulnerable) network.”

Are we ungrateful now?

For the government, this experience may show that Simon will get there on half his budget, because, as a major project, we draw our own plan. At least that’s my concern, because there is nothing in the letter about how she would rate this experience. The truth is that with the solidarity pot of all existing (partial) budgets together, we cannot guarantee our children 7/7 and 24/24 guidance.

Should we be happy with the half? Are we ungrateful now? Because doesn’t Simon already get the half? morning and evening, and make sure you shower and wear clean clothes, brush your teeth, polish your teeth?Imagine that you and your partner often take turns going out so the other can stay with your adult child?that you still have to build a net to catch him when you fail?while also trying to do your job and family well Good all the time, and you have to cut down on your free time to manage everything? Because we, parents, are also getting old, and sometimes we get tired of caring.

And so he did not take the champagne out of the fridge in November when I opened the letter with anticipation. But at the same time I did not dare feel disappointed. Because there is always a war raging somewhere and people are on the run and are forced to sleep in the street, or because families can no longer live. Pay their own energy bills and children grow up in poverty.Isn’t that all that much worse?

A government that experiments with people

“But what kind of society do we live in when the government is experimenting with people who really have to fight hard for an inclusive place in that society? If that government first approves your application for care after a long and rigorous procedure, thus acknowledging your need for care, but first puts you on a waiting list for years, and then pays only half of the budget it set for itself, based on available self-supporting care needs? And this is without any perspective, because nowhere in the letter does it say when the experiment will end and what you want to make clear with the experiment. Nor if and when Simon will get his full budget. Can I still count on that government? “

“So no, I’m not happy with half of the care budget being calculated and allocated in advance based on need for care. So I’m now considering getting the second half of that budget through the courts. That’s not an obvious move, because I’m tired and have put a lot of time into ‘care’. But I want my child to finally have what he’s entitled to: a budget to cover his care needs, so he can develop his full place in society. As a parent, I can rest assured that his future is secured.”

More info by GRIP vzw

Adequate and appropriate support is crucial for people with disabilities. But many people have little or no access to it. Children have to wait for care from a personal assistance facility or budget. Adults also remain on the waiting list for years to obtain a personal budget. They were promised by the Flemish government, but stated that there was no money. People remain on the waiting list for up to 20 years.

Of the more than 16,000 people on this waiting list, 1,100 were recently notified that they’re going to get a budget…it’s only part of the budget. This will be included in the pilot legislation. The Minister wants to investigate and evaluate what the people do with this partial budget, assuming that the people can get by with less. GRIP has been very critical since the first rumors about that experiment and he has also made it clear on several occasions. You will find a lot of reading material on our website.

Say yes do yes

According to GRIP, this minister’s initiative breaks the right to support because it undermines one of the most important foundations: a support budget tailored to an individual’s support needs. The budget hike has long been known to everyone on the waiting list: it’s part of the VAPH subsidy application procedure. The Flemish government has already said ‘yes’ to all the people on the waiting list. Now she also has to say “yes”.

We expect the political officials to fulfill their right to subsidies and to allocate sufficient budget for this. Our country has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for nothing. Realizing the human rights of all people must be a top priority when distributing money in our democracy.

GRIP has received a lot of emails in recent weeks from people who received a partial budget. This includes the aforementioned testimony from Simone’s mother, known from the TV show Down The Road. GRIP believes that all people who have been given a partial budget should receive their full budget. And just for clarity: Other people in priority group 2, which are more than 5,000 people, are also entitled to their full budget, i.e. more than 10,000 people in group priority 3, who will still be in group priority 1 and eligible for automatic allocation .

In the first week of January, there was justified press interest in the fact that PWD would go to court to appeal against the partial budget. Taking the step to court is not easy and GRIP believes this should not be a theoretical possibility, but it is really possible. That’s why we’ve developed a sample petition that people can use with their attorney if they want to. This saves time and money. People can download the sample petition on our website. We try to distribute the information as much as possible: You can file an appeal up to three months after receiving the letter from VAPH. We will continue to monitor and report on what is happening politically: The Welfare Committee of the Flemish Parliament started 2023 with a whole series of inquiries on the experience of partial budgets.

GRIP is the human rights organization for people with disabilities in Flanders. GRIP strives for the right to supported living, participating in the community, and living a life of dignity.

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