Westmeath Carers Association calls for no cuts

The Westmeath Carers Association is calling on the Government not to cut the Carers Allowance in the upcoming budget.

The Carers Association recently hosted its pre-budget briefing in Dublin, attended by politicians including local Deputies James Bannon and Willie Penrose and Senator Nicky McFadden, at which they urged the Government not to cut vital social welfare payments for carers in Budget 2010, as proposed in the McCarthy report.

Following the Government’s decision not to publish the long-awaited National Carers Strategy, the organisation is particularly concerned that the Government may eliminate or close to new applicants the half-rate Carers Allowance introduced in 2007.

Approximately 18,500 family carers in Ireland receive the half-rate Carers Allowance of €110 per week in recognition of the full-time care they provide and to help with the many costs of care. To qualify for this payment, carers must be in receipt of another social welfare payment, such as the state pension, and provide full-time, high-dependency care, which is often in excess of 50 hours per week.

The allowance of €110 would only provide five hours of care per week at market value, and the Westmeath Carers Association is urging the Government not to cut this payment or close it to new applicants.

“The untenable truth is that if the half-rate Carers Allowance is cut, this will mean an up to 30 per cent cut in income for those 18,500 carers in receipt of this payment,” says Caroline Poole, centre manager of The Carers Association, Westmeath.

“This is completely unacceptable and a cut which no other vulnerable group is expected to accept. For that €110 per week, the Government is saving the State at least €800 per week to provide residential care per cared-for person and up to €5,000 per week for acute hospital care.”

In its Pre-Budget Submission 2010, The Carers Association Westmeath is also asking the Government to safeguard family carers from other proposed social welfare cuts; to publish the National Carers Strategy; to introduce a specific budget for the provision of in-home respite for all full-time carers to allow them to take at least six hours break from their caring duties per week; and to ensure effective communication and co-ordination of carer-related policy at national, regional and local levels to provide more efficient and consistent support services for family carers.

The Carers Association’s Pre-Budget Submission 2010 is available to download at www.carersireland.com under Library of Documents.

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