Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
118. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has been contacted by the Carer’s Association in connection with the habitual residence condition; if she will advise the allowances available to carers as a result of section 180(2) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11668/12]
Carers allowance is a means tested social assistance payment made to persons who are unable to work because they are providing full time care and attention to elderly people or people with disabilities. Expenditure on carers has increased by 550% over the last ten years. In 2000, expenditure on carers by my Department was around €100 million compared to a provisional outturn in 2011, for carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit and respite care grant of some €658 million. This does not include the cost of the household benefits package or free travel which carers also receive. In 2011, there were almost 52,000 people in receipt of carers allowance from my Department; 22,000 of these were getting half-rate carers allowance in addition to another social welfare payment, an increase of almost 40% since 2008.
The habitual residence condition, as provided for in section 246 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended), applies to claims for jobseeker’s allowance, non-contributory State pension, blind pension, non-contributory widow’s and widower’s pensions, guardian’s payment, one-parent family payment, carer’s allowance, disability allowance, supplementary welfare allowance including rent supplement, and child benefit. The effect of the condition is that a person whose habitual residence is elsewhere is not qualified for these payments in Ireland. The purpose of this condition is to safeguard the social welfare system from abuse by restricting access for people who are not economically active and who have little or no established connection with Ireland.
I have no plans to change this requirement for carer’s allowance. The operation of the scheme is kept under review to ensure it operates fairly and that applicants are not being refused without full and appropriate consideration. There are a number of issues which contribute to rejection on HRC grounds. These include:
In 2011, 13,888 applications for carer’s allowance were processed. Of these, 223 were refused on the basis of habitual residency, of which 42 were Irish nationals. This means that, in 2011, approximately 1.6% of all applications were refused on habitual residency grounds.
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