PARENTS of disabled children will get almost €17,000 per year in additional care allowance payments, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said last night.
The payments include a carer's allowance and free TV licence, electricity allowance and phone allowance in the household benefit package.
Ms Burton highlighted this "very significant expenditure" as she defended the operation of the domiciliary care allowance (DCA) scheme in the Dail last night.
The domiciliary care allowance is designed to help parents with the cost of caring in the home for a severely disabled child under the age of 16. There are around 26,000 children getting the allowance of €309 per month, as well as an annual respite care grant of €1,700.
"Those who receive the carer's allowance and household benefit package, in addition to domiciliary care allowance and the respite care grant, each receive a total of €16,742 per annum from the department," she said.
She said the State was happy to make these payments due to the "heroic and selfless role" that parents play in raising children with severe disabilities. Around 40pc of 26,000 children in the scheme have parents getting the additional carer's and household benefit payments worth €16,742 per year.
But there have been complaints that the number of children whose applications are rejected has soared since the Department of Social Protection took over the domiciliary care allowance scheme from the HSE three years ago. Last year, 46pc of the 2,420 appeals against rejection succeeded.
Ms Burton said her department was going to carry out an urgent review into the scheme. It will consider whether the current system of processing applications and the medical guidelines are appropriate.
It came in response to a motion by the technical group of Independent TDs which called for the application and appeals system to be changed.
Independent Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy said last night that the Government's announcement of a review was a welcome step. "We put the motion down to force change in how the process happens. It's a little bit of light but I really regret it has taken doing this to force it out," she said.