Harkin highlights gaps in Budget when it comes to Carer’s Allowance

Independent TD Marian Harkin said it was a pity the Government’s approach to providing a safety net for the most vulnerable in Budget 2023 did not extend to addressing some “glaring gaps” in the system.

“For instance, the Carer’s Allowance continues to be means tested, the process is appropriately nicknamed the ‘mean’ test. This allowance is a support to family carers, many of whom provide 24/7 care for loved ones. In caring for their loved ones, they are doing a great service, not only for those they are caring for, but are also doing the state a real service, saving it in excess of €20 billion per annum,” Ms Harkin said.

She described the €12 increase in Carer’s Allowance as miniscule.

“It is not nearly enough to help family carers with the real cost of caring. The Indecon Report commissioned by the Government tells us that per household, the cost of caring can add a minimum of €200 per week to household bills.

“I was really disappointed to see that the Carers’ Allowance is still not a qualifying payment for fuel allowance,” the Independent TD continued.

“The Minister for Social Protection needs to think again about this. Family carers are at home 24/7 using more heat, light and electricity than the average family. How are they supposed to pay the bills landing in their letterboxes over the next few days, weeks and months? In my opinion family carers should automatically receive the fuel allowance”.

Deputy Harkin said she was also shocked to hear that only one of the €200 energy credits would be paid prior to Christmas, adding that people would struggle to pay their bills this year.

She called on the Government to ensure that at least two of the payments, a total of €400, are paid to households before Christmas.

“Carers need it, working people need it, those on fixed and low incomes need it,” she said.