An overall policy needs to be agreed regarding services for the disabled, and it must apply equally for all institutions and in all parts of the country. All aspects of monitoring these operations need to be bolstered.According to the State Budget, contributions to services for the disabled this year will amount to ISK 11.2bn. The National Audit Office’s report pinpoints a range of weaknesses in organisation and management in this field. Among other issues, no formally agreed overall policy is in place, and funding does not take into account regular assessments of the need for services. Monitoring of operations is also inadequate, and it is therefore not possible to guarantee equality among recipients of the services.
Regional offices oversee the provision of services for the disabled on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Security. The Ministry has also negotiated with five local authorities and municipal associations concerning the provision of services paid for by the Treasury. The report points out that there is no indication of the manner in which these agreements have been fulfilled.
This entire field of operation is scheduled for transfer from National Government to the municipalities at the beginning of next year. However, the Ministry will, as always, bear ultimate responsibility for the services and monitor them. Despite the existence of this plan, no assessment has been made of any possible benefits that will be reaped from this transfer, and the National Audit Office regards that as reprehensible.
The report highlights several ways to improve management in this field. Among other things, an overall policy must be formally agreed which clearly presents an order of priorities, a plan of action and performance benchmarks. Uniformity of services must also be guaranteed from institution to institution and from region to region. Financial contributions must take into account regular assessments of the need for services. Improving the monitoring of the service is vital. Finally, the authorities must ensure that work is carried out to evaluate the possible benefits of transferring this field of operation from the State to the municipalities.