Carthy commits Sinn Féin support for Carers
Local Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has said that his party is committed to tackling the difficulties faced by Carers in accessing social protection supports. He was speaking following his meeting with Brigid Finnegan, Cavan Monaghan Supports Manager with Family Carers Ireland, where they discussed the need to ensure that the valuable work of carers is recognised by government.
Family Carers Ireland were meeting with elected representatives to highlight their proposals for inclusion in this week’s budget. Among the priorities that they had earmarked on behalf of the 355,000 carers across the state were:
- Reform the means test for Carer’s Allowance
- Increase the hours a carer can work/study from 15 hours to 18.5 hours
- End the postcode lottery in home care and carer supports
- Replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant withdrawn in 2013
- Extend the GP Visit Card to include carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant.
During the course of the meeting Matt Carthy committed Sinn Féin to these measures and also to further supports for family carers in order to fully utilise the invaluable work that they provide for their loved-ones and our wider society.
Speaking this week he said:
“While this week’s budget contains some measures that will be welcomed by carers, they simply do not do far enough.
“The National Carers’ Strategy was published by Government back in 2012. It committed to supporting and empowering Carers yet it is the Governments’ own policies which prevent this.
“It is not enough to simply complement Carers and the work that they do every day. Instead, we need to tackle the very issues that they have consistently raised.
“The very fact that our social protection system does not support and assist Carers should ring alarm bells when its very purpose is to do just that. Far too many Carers are receiving no State support for the care that they provide day in and day out.
“This is despite the fact that they save the State billions of euro every year. Those that do receive either Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit are prevented from managing their own time as regards being able to supplement their payment with employment outside the home for any lengthy period.
“Many of them are further punished at retirement as they are unable to access an adequate State Pension after years of caring for another person.
“Sinn Féin, via our Social Protection spokesperson John Brady TD, have published a comprehensive policy document outlining how we can better appreciate the work of carers.
“We have proposed an end to any arbitrary rules regarding outside work patterns – carers should be trusted to make these judgements for themselves. We have targeted specific and intensive supports through existing job activation schemes to assist Carers when their caring role ceases and absolute certainty that they will not be punished with a reduced State Pension because of their years spent in a caring role.
“We also want to see changes to the way in which means are assessed for Carers Allowance, an increase in the Carer’s Support Grant and access to secondary social welfare supports for Carers who are currently denied these additional supports.
“The measures introduced need to be about more than showing our appreciation for Carers; they need to be about listening to them, taking action and making their lives that little bit easier.
“I look forward to continue working with Family Carers Ireland so that we can continue to support them in their invaluable work.”