Tuesday 20 March 2018

Dozens of carers protest at Dail and call on Government to reverse cuts

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

DOZENS of angry carers gathered outside the Dail to demand the Government reverse “savage” cuts to respite grants.

Mother Johanne Powell, from Co Wexford, was just one of the many despairing carers worrying whether they would be able to cope financially to continue to care for their sick or disabled relative at home.

Carers had hoped the Government would reverse the Budget decision to slash the respite care grant by one fifth - from €1,700 to €1,375 - for some 77,000 carers.

Catherine Cox, spokeswoman for the Carers Association, said the reality was the respite care grant might be aimed at giving family carers a break but it was generally used for essential bills such as heat and transport. She pointed out around 20,000 of the family carers providing full time care to loved ones receive no other monies from the state.

“We are very disappointed and angry that Government has gone ahead with this savage cut to the Respite Care Grant,” Ms Cox said.

Ms Cox said they had been hearing hardship stoies of carers in arrears, turning off heating and electricity, going hungry and some opting to sell their cars.

“Family carers save the state over four billion euro each year and have no legal entitlements to holidsy or even a day off. At a time of mass emigration and a rapidly ageing population, the demands on family carers have never been greater.”

Ms Powell, from Fethard-on-Sea, said HSE efforts to cut minor transport costs and the cuts to respite grant meant they were being forced to look at placing their daughter, Siobhan (29), who is severely disabled, in a nursing home.

She warned this would cost the State several times what it was saving in transport cutbacks. Transport to her service some 40km away from their home was slashed from five days a week to just three days.

Ms Powell said she was offered a place in a full time nursing home at a cost of over €55,000 a year to achieve savings of €16,000 a year in transport costs.

“It is so petty what they are doing as they are cutting people who are saving them millions," Ms Powell said. Ms Cox warned family carers have “taken all they can” and were suffering severe stress.

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