Written answers

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

333. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the income disregard for carer's allowance from €332.50 single and €665 for a couple to €450 and €900, respectively, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44096/19]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

In Budget 2020, I announced that recipients of Carer’s Allowance (CA) would be allowed to increase the number of hours they can work, study or attend a training course, outside the home, from 15 to 18.5 hours per week.  Over 1,200 additional family carers are expected to qualify for payment as a result of this change at an estimated cost of €11.6 million.  Also, any carer currently working less than 18.5 hours per week can avail of the additional hours.

The means test for Carer's Allowance is the most generous within the social welfare system in that €332.50 of gross weekly income is disregarded in the calculation of means for a single person; the equivalent for someone who is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting is €665 of combined gross weekly income. A married couple with 2 children could have weekly earnings of €734 net of PRSI, superannuation and union subscription costs and still qualify for the full rate of Carer's Allowance. This is equivalent to over €38,000 per annum.

At the end of December 2018, there were 79,914 people in receipt of CA.  The projected expenditure on CA in 2019 is almost €840 million.

The cost to increase the disregard for CA from €332.50 single and €655 for a couple to €450 and €900 respectively using the ESRI SWITCH model.  Allowing for income tax and Working Family Payment offsets, net expenditure is estimated to be around €55 million per year.

Changes to schemes are considered in an overall budgetary and policy context and from an evidence based perspective.  Some 86% of the current recipients of Carer’s Allowance have no means or means of less than €7.60 per week and would not benefit by an increase in the disregard.

Carers who would benefit from an increased disregard would be in higher income households.  Given the need to target available resources fairly and equitably to those in most need, allowing an increase in the number of hours was the best use of the limited resources available.  In this context I have no plans to change the means conditions for Carer's Allowance at this juncture.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.