THE Cyprus paraplegic organisation on Friday criticised the labour ministry of indifference towards people with disabilities and slashing a state grant used to hire social workers and therapists.
For the third year in a row, the ministry has kept its funding to the organisation at the reduced annual amount of €12,000, though expenses are €32,200, while back in 2012, the paraplegics used to receive €23,000.
Only after the disabled took their complaint to Labour minister Zeta Emilianides did the minister pledge to raise the amount of the subsidy, though it is not yet clear if all expenses will be covered.
However, the amount is not what counts, head of the paraplegics organisation Demetris Lambrianides told the Cyprus Mail.
“We had to contact the minister for the subsidy, instead of the welfare department giving us the right amount,” he said. “Every time it shows that the department doesn’t do its job well, they just extinguish fires whenever they appear.”
“This is not a responsible social state,” he added. “In order to protect vulnerable groups the social level of support needs to be increased. The state must allocate the funds as part of an investment in the progress of the country.”
Lambrianides stressed that this is especially important in Cyprus as the numbers show the expenditure for social support for people with disabilities is the lowest in the EU.
“I am not saying that the social workers are not good, but the management doesn’t have the right philosophy and doesn’t collaborate towards upgrading the services. The most important issue is the level of social protection, even for those who don’t need it.”
In a letter sent to the welfare services last week, the paraplegics accused the department of weakening the social safety net instead of strengthening it and displaying indifference to the plight of the disabled.
The money the paraplegics are asking for is for one social worker including a salary of €22,300, social insurance and transport and office expenses.
The social worker visits paraplegic and quadriplegic people at the rehabilitation centre and conducts home visits as part of the patients’ rehabilitation and to support social integration and participation at the individual and family level.
In the past few years, the paraplegics had to allocate money from other sources such as donations from individuals and companies to make up for the lack of government funding.