Carer's allowance is a means-tested payment for carers who look after people in need of full-time care and attention. In 2011, approximately 50,000 carers were in receipt of carer's allowance at a cost of over €504 million. The maximum weekly rate is €204 for those under 66 with increases for qualified children. In addition, carers receive an annual respite care grant of €1,700 in respect of each person for whom they care. They have free travel and may be entitled to household benefits if they live with the person for whom they are caring. While receiving carer's allowance, carers may work or receive training or education outside the home for up to fifteen hours per week. Twelve organisations have received funding from my Department under the Dormant Accounts arrangement to provide training and support for carers. This includes training associated with caring duties, computer training and personal development which enable carers to upgrade their skills base with a view to returning to work.
If the person being cared for has died, the carer's allowance continues to be paid for a further six weeks. This helps the carer adjust after the time they have spent in caring and to make decisions regarding their future.
If they sign on for jobseeker's allowance, they will have access to the education, training and employment supports available to people on the Live Register, with the time spent caring counted in the qualifying criteria for these supports.