The Government acknowledges the important role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role. This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.
My Department provides a number of income supports to carers such as Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Carer’s Support Grant. Combined spending on all these payments to family carers in 2020 is expected to exceed €1.3 billion.
Carer's Benefit is a PRSI based payment, made to an insured person who leaves the workforce or reduces their working hours to provide full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has a disability that requires that level of care. It is payable for a maximum of 104 weeks for each person being cared for.
The main legislative provisions relating to Carer's Benefit are contained in Chapter 14 of Part 3 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended, and S.I. 142 of 2007, Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007.
Under the provisions of the legislation, to be eligible to claim Carer's Benefit, a person must have been in remunerative full time employment for a minimum of 16 hours in the week, or 32 hours in the fortnight, for eight weeks out of the previous 26 week period immediately prior to the first day on which a claim is made. There is no provision in legislation to waive this requirement.
Any changes to the eligibility conditions for any of the statutory schemes operated by the Department, including Carer's Benefit, would require legislative change and would need to be addressed in a budgetary context.
The Deputy will appreciate that the number of remunerated hours worked by an employee is a matter for themselves and their employer.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.