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Carer's Allowance

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2021

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Questions (130, 131)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

130. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated full-year cost of increasing the means test threshold for entitlement to carer’s allowance for single and couple cohabiting applicants separately in €50 intervals up to €450 for single applicants and €950 for couple cohabiting applicants per week in tabular form. [13599/21]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

131. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated increase in the number of persons entitled to the carer’s allowance if the means test threshold for entitlement to carer’s allowance for single and couple cohabiting applicants separately in €50 intervals up to €450 for single applicants and €950 for couple cohabiting applicants per week in tabular form. [13600/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 131 together.

The Government acknowledges the crucial 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.

The main income supports to carers provided by my Department are Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Carer’s Support Grant. Combined spending on these payments to carers in 2021 is expected to exceed €1.4 billion.

At the end of January, there were 89,092 recipients of Carer's Allowance. The estimated expenditure for the payment in 2021 is in the region of €953 million.

The means test for Carer’s Allowance is one of the most generous in the social protection system. Currently, €332.50 of gross weekly income is disregarded in the calculation of means for a single person; the equivalent for someone who is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting is €665 of combined gross weekly income.

By comparison, the income disregard applied to Disability Allowance is €120 per week (which will increase to €140 per week from June 2021). For Jobseeker's Allowance, it is €20 per day up to a maximum of €60, and the balance is assessed at 60%. For Jobseeker's Transitional Payment, the weekly income disregard is €165 with 50% of the balance assessed as means.

The ESRI SWITCH microsimulation model has been used for the purposes of the estimate requested. The additional cost of increasing the means test threshold for entitlement to Carer’s Allowance for single and couple cohabiting applicants separately in €50 intervals, up to €450 for single applicants and €950 for couple cohabiting applicants per week are set out in tabular form below. The final interval in each case is less than €50 in order to arrive at the upper limits of €450 and €950 requested by the Deputy. It should be noted that the additional estimated costs provided are based on existing recipient data contained in the model.

It is not possible to give the estimated increase in the number of persons entitled to the Carer’s Allowance if the means test thresholds were increased. This is primarily because it is not known how many people there are caring and working that are currently over the income limit but who could apply for/become eligible for Carer's Allowance if the income limits were higher. Furthermore, SWITCH cannot model behavioural responses in such cases.

Based on the Department's own analysis of the Carer's Allowance, it should be noted that some 92% of the current recipients of Carer’s Allowance have no means or means of less than €7.60 per week and would not benefit by an increase in the disregard. Carers who would benefit from an increased disregard would be in higher income households.

Any changes to the means test must be considered in an overall budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Table 1: Carer's Allowance Single Person Disregard Increase from €332.50 to €450.00 in increments of €50.00

Single Person Disregard

Increase

Cumulative Increase from Existing Disregard

Estimated Additional Cost (€M) from the current disregard

€382.50

€50.00

€50.00

€2.33

€432.50

€50.00

€100.00

€3.26

€450.00

€17.50

€117.50

€3.26

Table 2: Carer's Allowance Couples Disregard Increase from €665.00 to €950.00 in increments of €50.00

Couples Disregard

Increase

Cumulative Increase from Existing Disregard

Estimated Additional Cost (€M) from the current disregard

€715.00

€50.00

€50.00

€1.50

€765.00

€50.00

€100.00

€2.33

€815.00

€50.00

€150.00

€2.94

€865.00

€50.00

€200.00

€3.26

€915.00

€50.00

€250.00

€3.26

€950.00

€35.00

€285.00

€3.81

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