The Carers Association angry that cut to family carers’ Respite Care Grant not reversed in Budget 2015

Budget 2015 offers no social recovery for family carers 

The Carers Association is angry that Government’s 19 per cent cut to the Respite Care Grant – a lifeline for over 77,000 family carers – has not been reversed in Budget 2015, particularly in light of the fact that they have begun the process of reversal of arbitrary cuts from Budget 2012. While The Carers Association welcomes the beginning of a reversal of cuts to social welfare payments, the organisation is devastated that family carers have been neglected in this reversal.

“With Government declaring an end to austerity measures, family carers are yet again ignored, despite saving the state four billion euro each year. We are extremely disappointed that the 19 per cent cut applied to the Respite Care Grant has not been reinstated and mistakenly believed Government would look after those hit hardest in past budgets.

Family carers have consistently lost allowances, benefits and supports over the past four years as well as services on the ground. We would ask how much longer Government can penalise the work of family carers while continuing to say care in the home is the way forward. The Minister talked about social recovery and job creation but where is the social recovery for family carers, many of whom are trapped within their caring roles?” says Catherine Cox, Head of Communications, The Carers Association.

The Carers Association is also disappointed that the prescription charge of €2.50 per prescription has remained, despite calling on Government to introduce a substantially lower flat rate, particularly for family carers who often have multiple prescriptions for both themselves and those they care for. While the organisation welcomes the €100 water allowance for family carers in receipt of the household benefits package, this applies to only 32,000 family carers. The Carers Association had asked Government to extend this to all full-time carers – the 77,000 in receipt of the Respite Care Grant.

“Overall this budget offers little relief to family carers who are already overburdened providing care for loved ones with very little or no support from the state. Research released last week by the College of Psychiatrists as part of Mental Health Week found over 50 per cent of family carers experiencing a significant mental health issue, including depression and anxiety, primarily due to their caring role. Tens of thousands of family carers struggle financially and we are calling on Government to reinstate the full Respite Care Grant, extend the €100 water allowance to all full time family carers and to stop cutting supports and services for family carers” says Catherine Cox.

The Carers Association welcomes the announcement of 1,700 new education posts including teachers, resource teachers and SNA’s and particularly the additional 365 Special Needs Assistants. The additional €25 million to deal with delayed discharges, €3 billion to support older people and disabled services in 2015 and an end to the moratorium in the public service is also welcomed.

Ireland’s 187,000 family carers contribute €77 million per week, providing 900,000 hours of care daily to the ill, frail and people with disabilities. This is the equivalent to one third of the total annual cost of the HSE (€13.3 billion) and is five times what family carers cost the Department of Social Protection in income support (€878 million). Full time family carers contribute on average €72,500 a year.

The Carers Association is a national voluntary organisation that provide a range of vital supports and services to Ireland’s 187,000 Family Carers