Labour Senator Mark Wall has called on Government to immediately address the means test for carers allowance following the revelation by Family Carers Ireland that 49% of those on the carers allowance payment are not getting the full €219 payment. Speaking at the Oireachtas committee on Social Protection and Rural Affairs, Senator Wall stated that it was incredible that when so many carers are providing 24/7 care, 7 days a week that so many are not in receipt of the full payment.
Senator Wall said: “This is a shameful situation. Carers are the backbone of our society, protecting and supporting those who need additional care. Carers are estimated to save the State €10 billion every year, with almost two in every three carers providing over 100 hours of care per week.
“Yet despite this crucial role that they play in society, the Government continues to treat carers with a total lack of respect. I am aware of a number of carers who provide significant levels of care and yet only receive €10 per week as a result of the means test. The means test has not been changed since 2008, 13 years ago.
“I am dealing with a case where the applicant is less than €10 above the income limit and is not getting any payment for the care of their loved one from the State. This is financially draining on the family who have had to adapt their home and spend a considerable amount of additional money on food and medical expenses in order to accommodate the care of their loved one.
“Family Carers Ireland gave clear testimony of the hardship that the current means test, based on gross earnings, is having on families in the State. It’s time for change.
“Responses to Parliamentary Questions tabled by the Labour Party continue to point to a first-time refusal rate of 50% of carers allowance applications. There are a number of contributing factors to this, but Government cannot deny the contribution of our 500,000 carers to the State and the massive savings that this brings.
“It is beyond time that we revisit the means test for the carers allowance. Government need to recognise the hardship that so many families are experiencing in looking after their loved ones. We need to support the carers that support our society.”