The same supports are provided to carers regardless of their residence with just one difference. Since April 2012 those in receipt of a carer’s payment are not entitled to household benefits in their own right. For those who do reside with the person being cared for, the person is likely to already have an entitlement of their own to household benefits. Approximately 31,000 carers receive a household benefits package.
My Department provides a number of supports to carers. The two main weekly income support payments are the means tested carer’s allowance (including half-rate carer’s allowance) and the PRSI based carer’s benefit. In addition to either of these payments, non-resident carers continue to be entitled to the annual respite care grant and free travel.
In general, to qualify for carer’s allowance or carer’s benefit, the carer must live with the person being cared for. However, where the carer is not resident with the person they are caring for, the circumstances may still be suitable to allow them to provide full time care and attention. In these cases, there must be a system of communication between the carer’s residence and that of the care recipient such as telephone or an alarm type system. The care recipient must not already be receiving full time care and attention within his or her own residence from another person.
Expenditure on carers has increased significantly in recent years. In 2013 it is estimated to be €776 million compared with an estimated outturn of €771 million in 2012. The expenditure on carers in 2012 included: €509 million on carer’s allowance; €24 million on carer’s benefit; €135 million on the respite care grant; and €103 million on domiciliary care allowance.
There are over 52,000 people in receipt of carer’s allowance. Of these, over 23,000 are getting half-rate carer’s allowance in addition to another social welfare payment. There are approximately 1,700 people in receipt of carer’s benefit.
The income disregard and means test for carers is the most generous within the social welfare system. A couple under 66 with two children, earning a joint annual income of up to €35,400 can qualify for maximum payment carer’s allowance which such a couple earning €59,300 will still qualify for the minimum rate and may also qualify for the household benefits package. A person receiving the carer’s allowance is also entitled to a free travel pass.
The annual respite care grant is paid automatically to those in receipt of carer’s allowance, carer’s benefit and domiciliary care allowance in June of each year. The grant is not means tested and is also available to those people who are not in receipt of a one of the above payments but are providing full time care and attention to a person who needs this care.