The main income supports for carers provided by my Department include Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Carer's Support Grant. Spending on these payments in 2019 is expected to exceed €1.2 billion.
It is a condition for receipt of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Carers Support Grant that the carer must be providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires such full-time care and attention because of a specified illness or disability. This condition is moderated by legislation allowing the carer to work or engage in training outside the home for an aggregate total of 15 hours per week. In setting the relevant hours thresholds, it is appropriate to balance the needs of the carer and the person to whom care is being provided. As part of Budget 2006, the number of hours per week that carers could engage in employment, education or training outside the home was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week.
At the end of 2016, there were 70,459 people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, 14,322 (approximately 20 per cent) were in engaged in some form of employment over the course of the year.
The main cost elements of a proposal to increase the threshold would arise from new claimants who are not currently eligible and who do not apply for the allowance because of the 15 hours condition. There is no data available to estimate the number of people who could become eligible as a consequence of increasing the hours threshold and an estimate of the costs can therefore not be given.
Any changes to qualifying criteria would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.