Means-test for carers must be tackled

25 June 2019

Labour Party Spokesperson for Social Protection, Willie Penrose TD, has called on Minster Doherty to address the issue of means-testing for recipients of carers allowance. This is just one of the proposals in a Labour Party’s Private Member’s motion on carers, due before the Dáil on Wednesday evening. 

Deputy Penrose said: 

“For the past twenty years, we have had care on the cheap in this country. It has been tantamount to exploitation. Carers don’t want to be lionised, canonised or patronised. What they need is a help when they require it. 

“The Labour Party has always been a strong advocate for carers. In 2003 I published a report entitled ‘Caring for The Carers.’ and many of the recommendations have been implemented. This Private Member’s motion seeks to pick up where that report left off and address outstanding issues such as the central eligibility attached to means-testing. We are also asking the government to conduct a study of the income and living costs of carers, to ensure that income supports are sufficient to ensure all carers can attain a decent minimum standard of living for themselves.

“We have 355,000 carers in Ireland. Currently, one in ten people is now involved in caring. According to Family Carers Ireland, that figure is set to rise to one in five by 2030.  If every one of those carers were to down tools in the morning, the impact that would have on our health system is incalculable. Carers take the pressure off acute hospital beds and A&E’s and they give those they care for the comfort of their own home, which assists with better medical outcomes.

“Yet carers are always the unsung heroes. They experience isolation, poor health and increasing numbers are suffering from burn out. This is not helped by the lack of provision of adequate home help hours and respite care. Most carers are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Carers require support in their caring journey and in accordance with their individual needs. Labour’s motion recognises the contribution made by carers. It is time this government did the same.”

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