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Social Welfare Benefits

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Questions (4)

Carol Nolan

Question:

4. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of carer’s allowance and carer’s benefit applications made to her Department, by county, from 1 January 2019 to date, in tabular form; the number of applications that were refused over the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58216/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

My Department provides a range of supports to carers including Carer's Allowance and Carer's Benefit. These payments support individuals who provide care to people in need of full-time care and attention. Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means tested payment and Carer's Benefit (CARB) is a payment to insured people who leave the workforce or reduce their working hours. Historic information on applications received on a county basis, based on where a person lived at the time of their application, is not readily available. I have asked officials to collate the information sought to the extent possible and to forward it to the Deputy as quickly as possible. There are 90,478 people currently in receipt of CA. The number of people in receipt of CA has increased by 75% in the past 10 years, from 51,666 in 2011. In 2020 expenditure on Carer's Allowance income supports was €926 million and it is expected to exceed €954 million in 2021. There are 3,344 people currently in receipt of Carer’s Benefit. The number of people in receipt of CARB has increased by 104% in the past 10 years, from 1,637 in 2011. In 2020 expenditure on Carers Benefit income supports was €49 million and it is expected to exceed €47 million in 2021. It will be clear to the Deputy that the trajectory of CA payments - both in terms of successful applications and expenditure - is in one direction only, reflecting the Government's sustained commitment to and appreciation of the crucial work undertaken by carers. Significant improvements in new claim decision making has been achieved over recent years for Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit. This has been maintained by my Department throughout the period of the pandemic. The average time to award Carer’s Allowance and Carer's Benefit in 2021 is 4 weeks compared to an average of 12 weeks in 2019. As part of Budget 2022, I was pleased to able to announce additional measures which will allow carers to have a higher weekly household income and a higher level of savings, and still qualify for a Carer’s Allowance payment. These significant changes will mean more Carers will now qualify for the payment while those in receipt of a reduced payment will also see increases. From next June, the amount of weekly income disregarded in the means test for Carer’s Allowance will increase from €332.50 to €350 for a single person, and from €665 to €750 for a couple. In addition, the amount of capital or savings disregarded in the means test will be increased from €20,000 to €50,000. These are the first changes to the Carer’s Allowance means test in some 14 years and will ensure that thousands more people will now qualify for the payment. In addition, many Carer’s who are currently on a reduced payment rate due to means will move to a higher payment.

Questions Nos. 5 to 12, inclusive, answered orally.
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