McNamara Backs Reform of Carer’s Allowance Scheme

A Dáil motion brought forward by Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara calling for the Income Disregard for Carer’s Allowance to be raised in Budget 2024 has been accepted by government.

In the motion presented by members of the Independent Group this week, the Government was called on to increase the Income Disregard for Carer’s Allowance to €900 per week, per household (or the equivalent average weekly earnings for 2023) in Budget 2024, and to at least €450 per week for a single carer.

The Motion also requested that the Government agree to fundamentally reform the Carer’s Allowance scheme to ensure the adequacy of the Carer’s Allowance payment, that young carers are adequately supported to have a life and opportunities outside their caring roles, and that an individualised approach to the means testing of carers’ payments is introduced.

According to figures released by the Department of Social Protection in response to a Parliamentary Question by Deputy McNamara, there currently are 1,256 people in County Clare in receipt of a full-rate Carer’s Allowance with a further 1,057 people in receipt of a half-rate Carer’s Allowance.

“I welcome the Government’s decision not to contest this motion which, at its very heart, is centred on the need for significant reform of carer supports, in particular the carer’s allowance scheme,” explained Deputy McNamara.

He said the scheme, which has been in place in its current form for 33 years, is “inadequate, gender biased, overly restrictive and no-longer-fit-for-purpose and must be reformed to meet the needs of family carers.”

“The maximum weekly rate of Carer’s Allowance of €236 per week is totally inadequate to support carers whose earning capacity is significantly reduced, or often completely diminished due to their caring duties,” added Deputy McNamara. “Family carers are expected to provide full-time care of at least 35 hours per week to those medically assessed as in need of full-time care for €236 per week, just €16 more than the basic social welfare payment, and this situation is untenable. The introduction of a basic income for artists, rightly set at the rate of €325 per week, illustrates the need for a significant increase in Carer’s Allowance to reflect the real value of care.”

“Means testing based on household income rather than the individual income of the family carer forces carers to be financially reliant on their partners while they continue to care. This needs to be addressed urgently and I warmly welcome that the Government decision not to contest the details of the Motion,” concluded Deputy McNamara.