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Budget welfare measures welcomed by Family Carers Ireland but members warn a lot more work needs to be done

Carers have been hailed one of the big winners from yesterday's announcement

A lot more work needs to be done to recognise and support family carers.

So says Family Carers Ireland in response to Budget 2022.

However, the organisation’s welcomed the social welfare measures that were announced, calling them a significant step in the right direction.

Carers are getting the biggest boost and Sarah Drea from the local Citizen’s Information Centre says “That’s the good news story in the social welfare area, carers are getting a good break from the point of view of the means test that they have to do in order to qualify for the payment, they’re getting the normal €5 per week increase in their payment but I’d say everyone on the carers allowance will be reviewed and the income disregard has increased significantly and also the disregard for the amount of savings you can have”.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland said “Family Carers Ireland welcomes many of the measures contained in Budget 2022 and in particular the work done by the Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys to recognise family carers and the value of their contribution.

“The changes announced to the means test for Carer’s Allowance are a significant step forward and will potentially see thousands of family carers qualifying for the payment for the first time.

“While we welcome the Minister’s willingness to address outstanding eligibility issues, going forward, there must be an emphasis on ensuring that the financial supports provide for a minimum essential standard of living for all of Ireland’s 500,000 family carers.

“Families have been under huge strain, with the vast majority of family carers taking on more care than ever before during the pandemic, placing a huge toll on their mental health and finances. An additional €5 a week will do little to help those who are facing financial hardship.

Family carers continue to go above and beyond to protect their loved ones and reduce the burden on our health and care systems. Many have done so without vital supports including training, respite breaks and vital therapies leaving significant numbers at breaking point. Access to respite breaks is crucial for the health and wellbeing of family carers and the sustainability of the care that they provide. We are therefore disappointed that the Government has to date failed to set out plans for funding the Carer’s Guarantee to end the postcode lottery of supports and services despite having committed €2 million to this in last year’s budget”.

Family carers are truly the forgotten frontline of this pandemic. The cost to the State of replacing the 19 million hours of care provided by family carers each week would be €20bn annually. The cost to family carers of not being properly supported or recognised by the State is isolation, poor health and increasingly, carer burnout.

“Today’s measures go some way to recognising the contribution made by family carers, but a lot more work needs to be done particularly from a health care perspective.”

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