Written Answers. - Carer's Allowance.

Michael Bell


527 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Social Welfare the plans, if any, he has to introduce carer's allowance to those in receipt of a private pension similar to the free schemes, who are giving full time care and attention to elderly/sick people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16156/96]

Michael P. Kitt


544 Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Social Welfare the pensions that are regarded as qualifying pensions for the purposes of a carer's allowance; the proposals, if any, he has to change the regulations to allow a survivor's contributory pension as a qualifying pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16567/96]

It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 527 and 544 together.

The carer's allowance is a means tested payment for carers on low incomes who live with and look after certain people who need full-time care and attention. The allowance is paid directly to the carer. At the end of July this year a total of 7,951 people were in receipt of the allowance from my Department.
The person being cared for must be at least 66 years of age or aged under 66 and getting a blind person's pension or an invalidity pension from my Department, disabled person's maintenance allowance, from a health board or an equivalent social security payment from a country covered by EU regulations or a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement.
The question of further extending the carer's allowance scheme to allow for carers who are looking after categories such as recipients of a survivor's contributory pension and aged under 66, would have cost implications which would have to be examined in a budgetary context and in the light of the resources available.
A person in receipt of a private pension who is looking after a sick or elderly person may qualify for the carer's allowance in the same manner as any other applicant for the allowance. Their status as private pensioners does not influence their eligibility and they are subject to the same means test as all other applicants.