Written answers

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Department of Social Protection

National Carers Strategy

Photo of Colm KeaveneyColm Keaveney (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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30. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection her plans to assist carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33089/15]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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In recognition of the vital contribution made by carers, the Government published a National Carers’ Strategy in 2012 to signal its commitment to recognising and respecting carers as crucial care partners and to respond to their needs, across a number of policy areas.

Under this strategy, the Department assists carers by providing a range of income supports. These include carer's allowance, carer's benefit, domiciliary care allowance and respite care grant. €822 million is provided for these payments in 2015.

Carers’ allowance is the main income support. Since 2004 the number of people in receipt of carer’s allowance has increased from over 23,000, to just over 58,000 at the end of August this year - an increase in excess of 150%. Carers in receipt of another social welfare payment (such as state pension) may also receive a carer’s payment at half rate. Recipients of carer’s allowance also qualify for free travel and, if they are living with the person for whom they are caring, the household benefits package

In addition, the Respite Care Grant is an annual non-means-tested payment of €1,375 made to carers by the Department. Full time carers who are not in receipt of a carers payment from the Department are also entitled to the grant. The estimated cost of the RCG, in 2015, is in excess of €124 million in respect of over 90,000 recipients of care.

This year, the Department is sponsoring a measure for family carers, under the dormant accounts fund, which will provide €1m for projects and programmes that provide supports and training for carers. Pobal, who are administering the measure on behalf of the Department, are currently assessing applications and it is expected that contracts, with successful applicants, will be completed by the end of the year.

As part of its commitment under the Carers’ strategy, the Department also hosts an annual forum for carers’ groups which affords an opportunity for carers to engage with the relevant state agencies on an ongoing basis.

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