Thursday, 20 March 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
123. Mr. N. Treacy asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will apply the EU Working Time Directive to the guidelines applicable to applicants for carer's allowance and to those currently in receipt of carer's allowance on a voluntary basis; if his attention has been drawn to the intolerable and unworkable criteria currently affecting their applications; the date on which changes, if any, will be made; and if he will make a statement on the mater. [7805/97]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): Generally speaking, the working time directive covers employment, both in the private and public sectors. The Deputy will be aware that the carer's allowance administered by my Department is a social assistance scheme which provides an income maintenance payment to people who have little or no means and who are engaged in providing full-time care and attention to elderly or incapacitated pensioners or to certain people with disabilities. Recipients of the carer's allowance are not employees of the Department of Social Welfare.
My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health, has undertaken a review of the needs of carers and, arising from that review, I have introduced a 50 per cent increase in the allowance for people caring for more than one person. It is estimated that this measure will benefit one in four cases. I am examining other recommendations with a view to further improvements in the context of the next budget.
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