Tuesday 23 July 2019

Claim of 'exploitation' of carers as proposed supports to be debated in Dáil

'The harsh reality is that carers in Ireland have been completely undervalued by this Government.' Photo: Stock image/Getty
'The harsh reality is that carers in Ireland have been completely undervalued by this Government.' Photo: Stock image/Getty
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THERE is a “naked level of exploitation” of carers in Ireland and “it’s about time that we actually faced up to this,” the Labour Party has claimed.

The remarks by Willie Penrose came as Labour prepares to table a Dáil motion demanding more support for carers of older people or those with disabilities in their own homes.

His party’s motion will be debated tomorrow and it proposes a number of measures including making Carer’s Allowance exempt from income tax.

Mr Penrose said this would be worth up to €90-per-week for those in receipt of the basic €219 payment depending on the rate of tax they pay.

The motion also calls for a new National Carers Strategy and a study into the income and living costs of carers.

It seeks to substantially reform the means test for the Carer’s Allowance with a long-term aim of abolishing it.

As an interim measure is suggests substantially increasing the income disregard in the next Budget, extending the range of allowable deductions and increasing the capital disregard in the means test.

The motion proposes increasing the hours a recipient of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit can work or study from 15 to 18.5 hours per week.

Longford-Westmeath TD Mr Penrose argued: “For the past 20 years we have had caring on the cheap in this country.

“We’re absolutely exploiting carers.

“They don’t need our pity, they don’t need to be lionised or canonised or patronised.

“What they need is help when they require it.”

He said there are 355,000 carers in Ireland and just 85,000 get the Carer’s Allowance and that if they were all to “down tools” amid pressure on social care and hospitals “the whole place would collapse”.

Mr Penrose said that on average carers are providing 45-50 hours care per week with many getthing the carers allowance of €219.

He said: "it’s a naked level of exploitation and it’s about time that we actually faced up to this."

Mr Penrose said carers are “unsung heroes” and “now there’s a few bob in the kitty what better place to start allocating in an equitable and a fair basis than to carers.”

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section