While welcoming the reinstatement of the Carers Support Grant to its previous level, Independent MEP Marian Harkin said that the government had a long way to go before meeting the deserved support of the country’s over 200,000 carers. “The fact that carers save the state an estimated €4 billion per year is indicative of what the government owes them in support”, she said.
“While the 80,000 carers covered by Minister Varadker’s announcement will be helped by the return to the €1,700 level this is just provision for a one week break each year having regard to the cost to carers of providing alternative care arrangements”, she said. The recently concluded census would show that the 180,000 carers identified in the previous census would be considerably exceeded and provision needed to be made for this increase in the upcoming budget, she stressed.
“The huge burden on carers, who qualify for allowances, needs more realistic response by government while those who currently do not qualify because of means testing or part time caring, deserve a more generous response for a group of people whose dedication saves the national exchequer so much”, the Independent MEP said.
She urged all those who qualify for the Carers Support Grant to apply immediately and to talk to fellow carers to ensure that they are aware that the grant applied to all those they care for.