[19.07.2019] Family carers are under severe financial pressure due to a lack of supports and services and the extra costs associated with providing essential care to their loved ones. Shockingly, one in four family carers providing 50+ hours of care per week do not receive Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit because of the strict eligibility criteria*.
Ireland’s 355,000 family carers are the backbone of our health and social care system, saving the State €10 billion in unpaid care every year. However, new research shows that their health and wellbeing has deteriorated significantly over the past decade, with 75% worried about not having enough money now or in the future.*
For many families, higher household costs such as heating, laundry, medicines, home modifications or specialised transport lead to financial hardship. Years spent on a low income or out of the workforce mean carers can’t repay debt, build savings or contribute to a pension while those who manage to remain in employment are likely to have to reduce their working hours, accept lower paid positions and sacrifice career progression.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland, says:
“It is clear from recent research that family carers are under-supported and are struggling financially. Their physical and mental health is being damaged by the fear of not having enough money in the future. Family Carers Ireland is urging the Government to use Budget 2020 to address this issue and signal its commitment to improving the lives of Ireland’s 355,000 family carers.”
Family Carers Ireland has outlined its priorities for Budget 2020 in a pre-budget submission titled ‘A Decade Lost’. The organisation is calling on the Government to:
- Increase the income disregard for Carer’s Allowance from €332.50 to €450 for a single person and €665 to €900 for a couple. The income disregard for Carer’s Allowance has remained stagnant for the past 11 years.
- Extend the allowable deductions and assess income on its net value rather than gross value. Assessing net value does not consider mortgage repayments, dependent children, college fees, medical costs, etc.
- Stop penalising families that are trying to put aside savings for the future care of their loved ones – the formula for assessing means from capital (savings, shares and property) for Carer’s Allowance should be increased in line with the Disability Allowance, where the first €50,000 of capital is disregarded rather than €20,000.
- Make Carer’s Allowance exempt from tax.
- Exclude carer payments in the financial assessment of the Working Family Payment.
- Increase the hours a carer is allowed to work/study from 15 to 18.5 per week.
Notes to the Editor:
Family Carers Ireland’s pre-budget 2020 submission A Decade Lost can be viewed here.
*Figures taken from Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring which can be viewed here. This research was conducted by Family Carers Ireland in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.