Family carers cannot be forgotten in the forthcoming budget, Independent TD Denis Naughten has said.
Cathaoirleach of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection Deputy Naughten said it is “imperative that family carers are not forgotten when it comes to reforms required to our Social Welfare system as part of Budget 2022”.
“This Budget must not be about giving a little bit to everybody, but it must be about structural reforms to our society which will benefit everybody as our economy recovers,” stated Deputy Naughten.
Meeting with Family Carers Ireland, Denis Naughten said: “Such a system must ensure that it supports all those who make a vital contribution to Irish society by performing work in the home, supporting local communities and acting as family carers. The contributions made by all must be recognised and rewarded.”
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection recognised that only half of 89,000 family carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance get the maximum weekly rate and that an urgent review of the means test for family carers needs to be carried out as part of Budget 2022 to ensure the current means test is fit for purpose and reflects the current cost of living.
“There are over 500,000 family carers in Ireland who save the State approximately €20 billion per annum by providing direct care at home, but less than one in five get the carers allowance. Therefore, it is imperative that the Carers Support Grant is increased to a minimum of €2,000 in Budget 2022,” he said.
“Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance can avail of an 18.5 hour per week employment exemption. However, the Joint Committee is of the opinion that this unfairly limits the amount of work outside the home a family carer can obtain. The Committee believes that discretion should be applied, particularly in circumstances in which it has no impact on the level of care provided, for example where the person in receipt of care attends day care, a training centre or school.”
Mr Naughten said it was important to recognise that the Carer’s Allowance was not designed solely as an income support, but as a way of supporting older people, and people with a disability, to remain in their own homes where possible.
“This benefit is now even more pronounced as a result of Covid-19,” he added.