Carers: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Willie Penrose on Wednesday, 26 June 2019:
That Dáil Éireann:
recalls that:
— Ireland has ratified both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC);
— these UN Conventions place a duty on Ireland to ensure that children and adults with mental or physical disabilities should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate active participation in the community, including through the provision of facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health; and
— these UN Conventions also place a duty on Ireland to ensure assistance to the parents and caregivers for children and adults with disabilities, including assistance with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care;
recognises that:
— a Central Statistics Office study found that 10 per cent of the population are providing care to someone with a chronic condition or an infirmity due to old age, for an average of nearly 45 hours per week;
— an estimated 355,000 people in Ireland are carers, many of them caring for family members on an unpaid basis;
— over 13,000 carers are under the age of 25, including children involved in caregiving; and
— many people prefer to remain in their homes rather than move to a healthcare setting and this adds to their wellbeing;
acknowledges that:
— the work of carers is of inestimable value to Irish society;
— a financial estimate of the annual work of carers is €10 billion, which would otherwise be a cost to the public finances to provide a range of health and social care services;
— one in five carers receives Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit, and 119,975 carers received the Carer’s Support Grant in 2018; and
— an estimated 35,000 or more full-time carers do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance due to the means test, the income disregard for which has not increased since 2008;
further recognises that:
— caring for a loved one has a knock-on effect not only on people’s lives but also has consequences for their families and their other relationships;
— a great many carers are under stress, with significant increases in the numbers reporting poor health, including conditions such as depression and anxiety; and
— measures taken during the period of Ireland’s Economic Adjustment Programme now need to be re-examined to ensure that carers receive an appropriate level of support from the State, including additional support to cover the rising cost of living in recent years; and
calls on the Government to:
— develop a new National Carers Strategy, taking into account the implications of Ireland’s recent ratification of the UNCRPD, and with regard to the specific needs of minority populations;
— conduct a study of the income and living costs of carers, with a view to ensuring that income supports are sufficient to ensure all carers can meet the extra costs associated with caring and can attain a decent minimum standard of living for themselves;
— substantially reform the means test for Carer’s Allowance, with the long-term aim of its abolition, and as an interim measure in Budget 2020 to substantially increase the income disregard, extend the range of allowable deductions and increase the capital disregard in the means test;
— make the Carer’s Allowance exempt from income tax in line with other means tested welfare allowances;
— increase the hours a recipient of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit can work or study from 15 to 18.5 hours per week;
— provide adequate funding to address waiting lists for homecare and home supports;
— provide community and voluntary organisations with increased funding so that people in every location have access to adequate services;
— replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant;
— increase funding to the Housing Adaptation Grant; and
— extend the GP visit card to carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“acknowledges that:
— Ireland has a duty to protect persons with disabilities and their caregivers, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and provide necessary support for the child and for those who care for the child, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC);
— the vision of the Carers’ Strategy is to recognise and respect carers as key care partners, who are supported to maintain their own health and wellbeing and to care with confidence and empowered to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life;
— the Health Service Executive (HSE) Disability Services budget for 2019 is €1.9 billion, providing 8,568 residential places, 22,272 day places, 182,506 respite overnights, 32,662 day respite sessions, 1.63 million personal assistant hours for 2,535 people, and 3.08 million home support hours for 8,094 people; and
— an additional €10 million was provided to the disability sector in 2018, to enhance respite care and alternative respite services including extended day services, summer camps and Saturday clubs;
notes that there are a number of sources of data on family carers in Ireland, and that Census 2016 found that:
— 195,263 or 4.1 per cent of respondents indicated that they provided regular unpaid personal help for a friend or family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability, including problems due to old age;
— the total number of family carers increased by 4.4 per cent between 2011 and 2016 and the total number of family carers aged 45 or older increased by 11.3 per cent; and
— there were 13,000 family carers under the age of 25 in 2016, a decrease of over 1,000 compared to 2011;
recognises that:
— the health system relies heavily on family and other unpaid carers, who make a profound difference to the health, wellbeing and quality of life of those that they care for;
— two in five family carers receive Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit;
— the rate of Carer’s Allowance has increased every year since 2017;
— since 2016, Carer’s Allowance continues to be paid for 12 weeks after the death of the person being cared for, an increase of six weeks, and since 2017, this extension was also granted in cases where the cared for person permanently moved into residential care or a nursing home;
— the means test for Carer’s Allowance is one of the most generous in the social protection system, in that €332.50 of gross weekly income is disregarded in the calculation of means for a single person and the equivalent for someone who is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting is €665 of combined gross weekly income;
— the work of family carers is indispensable in ensuring that people requiring care across the country can receive such care in their own homes and communities, while maintaining their independence and sense of self-worth;
— providing care to loved ones can have a significant impact on the health, physical and mental wellbeing, finances and familial and societal relationships of family carers;
— a range of social services and supports are necessary to enable family carers to provide care to the best of their ability;
— the Government is committed to the full implementation of the National Carers’ Strategy, 2012, a whole-of-Government response to the challenges faced by family carers through the development of 42 actions under four national goals;
— five progress reports published by the Department of Health, along with a series of independently conducted assessments of progress on the implementation of the strategy from the perspective of family carers, have found that a majority of actions have progressed in a way that has led to a positive impact on the lives of family carers although more work remains to be done;
— the provision of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Carer’s Support Grant and Domiciliary Care Allowance, at a cost of almost €1.2 billion in 2019, offers an important income support to family carers;
— since 1st June, 2017, all children in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance are eligible for a medical card without a means test;
— increasing the income disregard for Carer’s Allowance from €332.50 to €450 for a single person and €665 to €900 for a couple would cost the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection approximately €73 million, with income tax and Working Family Payment offsets, the net expenditure would be €55 million; and
— it is a condition of receipt of Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit that the carer must be providing full-time care and attention, and the current limit of 15 hours of work or study per week is considered to represent a reasonable balance between meeting the care recipient’s requirement for full-time care and the carer’s need to maintain contact with the workforce;
further recognises that:
— over the past four years there has been a considerable increase of nearly €140 million in the home supports budget which has grown from €306 million in 2015 to almost €446 million in 2019, with demand continuing to grow, and a combined 18.2 million hours of general and intensive home support for older people will be provided this year;
— the HSE reviews people on the waiting list as funding becomes available to ensure that individual cases continue to be dealt with on a priority basis within the available resources and as determined by the local frontline staff who know and understand the clients’ needs, and who undertake regular reviews of those care needs to ensure that the services being provided remain appropriate;
— the HSE provides over €21.6 million in annual funding through service level arrangements with community and voluntary organisations who provide services to support family carers including in home respite services, peer-to-peer support and training courses;
— the Minister for Health and the Minister of State for People with Disabilities intend to revert to Government in due course with revised proposals to reflect discussions at Cabinet and further discussions between the Ministers on the best way to progress the Transport Scheme, and it is notable that with regard to transport there are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and on-going work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers to further improve access to public transport services, and under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of public transport for people with a disability;
— in 2019, funding of €71.25 million was allocated by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, Housing Aid for Older People and Mobility Aids Grant, comprising €57 million Exchequer funding, an increase of some 8 per cent on the 2018 figure, with the balance of €14.25 million being contributed by the local authorities and the responsibility for the apportionment between the three grant schemes is a matter for each local authority; and
— since September 2018, free GP visit cards have been extended to persons in receipt of the Carer’s Allowance, and a key point in the decision to exclude Carer’s Support Grant recipients from the GP visit card scheme is that the grant is not directly comparable to either the Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Benefit, it is a once-off yearly payment of €1,700 made by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and is not means tested; and
further acknowledges that the Government commits to:
— fully implementing the National Carers Strategy, and developing a new Social Care Strategy, in line with the vision of Sláintecare to deliver a universal health service that offers the right care, in the right place at the right time;
— establishing a new stand-alone statutory scheme and system of regulation for home care services;
— including representatives of family carer advocacy organisations in the development of policy that has an impact on the ability of family carers to care for their loved one(s); and
— continuing to grow supports for family carers to allow them to maintain their health and wellbeing and to continue caring with confidence.
-(Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Jim Daly)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion re carers. On Wednesday, 26 June, on the question, "That the amendment to the motion be agreed to," a division was claimed. In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must take place now.

Amendment again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 38; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Brendan Ryan and Jan O'Sullivan.
Amendment declared carried.
Amendment No. 1 not moved.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 69; Staon, 0.

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Brendan Ryan and Jan O'Sullivan.
Question declared lost.
Sitting suspended at 3 p.m. and resumed at 3.40 p.m.