Thursday, 5 November 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
178. Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will publish the report on a national carer’s strategy; if she will make a statement outlining the reason for the delay in publishing this report. [39779/09]
Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Deputy Mary Hanafin): During 2008 an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, with secretariat support provided by my Department, undertook work, including a public consultation process to develop a National Carers’ Strategy. However, because of the prevailing economic situation, it was not possible to set targets or time lines which could be achieved. In that context, rather than publishing a document which did not include any significant plans for the future, the Government decided not to publish a strategy. This position remains unchanged.
The Government is acutely aware and appreciative of the contribution made by carers to people needing ongoing care and support. In recognition of this, considerable improvements have been made in recent years in services and supports for carers. Over the past decade, weekly payment rates to carers have greatly increased, qualifying conditions for carer’s allowance have significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carer’s benefit, half-rate carer’s allowance and the respite care grant have been introduced and extended.
In Budget 2009, the rate of carer’s allowance for those aged 66 or over increased by €7 to €239 per week and for those aged under 66 by €6.50 to €220.50 per week. These increases took effect from January 2009. Recipients of carer’s allowance are also eligible for household benefits and free travel and the respite care grant. It is estimated that the combined expenditure on carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit, the respite care grant and half-rate carer’s allowance will be €650 million in 2009.
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