Dáil to debate Labour motion on carers


Dáil Éireann:

recalls that –

  • Ireland has ratified both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,
  • these UN Conventions place a duty on Ireland to ensure that children and adults with mental or physical disabilities should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate active participation in the community, including through the provision of facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health,
  • these UN Conventions also place a duty on Ireland to ensure assistance to the parents and caregivers for children and adults with disabilities, including assistance with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care,

recognises that –

  • a Central Statistics Office study found that 10% of the population are providing care to someone with a chronic condition or an infirmity due to old age, for an average of nearly 45 hours per week,
  • an estimated 355,000 people in Ireland are carers, many of them caring for family members on an unpaid basis,
  • over 13,000 carers are under the age of 25, including children involved in caregiving,
  • many people prefer to remain in their homes rather than move to a healthcare setting and this adds to their wellbeing,

acknowledges that –

  • the work of carers is of inestimable value to Irish society,
  • a financial estimate of the annual work of carers is €10 billion, which would otherwise be a cost to the public finances to provide a range of health and social care services,
  • one in five carers receives Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit, and 119,975 carers received the Carer’s Support Grant in 2018,
  • An estimated 35,000 or more full time carers do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance due to the means test, the income disregard for which has not increased since 2008,

recognises that –

  • caring for a loved one has a knock on effect not only on people’s lives but also has consequences for their families and their other relationships,
  • a great many carers are under stress, with significant increases in the numbers reporting poor health, including conditions such as depression and anxiety,
  • measures taken during the period of Ireland’s Economic Adjustment Programme now need to be re-examined to ensure that carers receive an appropriate level of support from the State, including additional support to cover the rising cost of living in recent years,

calls on the Government to –

  • develop a new National Carers Strategy, taking into account the implications of Ireland’s recent ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and with regard to the specific needs of minority populations,
  • conduct a study of the income and living costs of carers, with a view to ensuring that income supports are sufficient to ensure all carers can meet the extra costs associated with caring and can attain a decent minimum standard of living for themselves,
  • substantially reform the means test for Carer’s Allowance, with the long-term aim of its abolition, and as an interim measure in Budget 2020 to substantially increase the income disregard, extend the range of allowable deductions and increase the capital disregard in the means test;
  • make Carer’s Allowance exempt from income tax in line with other means-tested welfare allowances,
  • increase the hours a recipient of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit can work or study from 15 to 18.5 hours per week,
  • provide adequate funding to address waiting lists for home care and home supports,
  • provide community and voluntary organisations with increased funding so that people in every location have access to adequate services,
  • replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant,
  • increase funding to the Housing Adaptation Grant,
  • extend the GP Visit Card to carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant.

— Brendan Howlin, Joan Burton, Alan Kelly, Jan O’Sullivan, Willie Penrose, Brendan Ryan, Seán Sherlock.

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