The carer's allowance is a social assistance payment which provides income support to people who are providing certain elderly or incapacitated persons with full time care and attention and whose incomes fall below a certain limit.
From January the maximum rate of carer's allowance for a carer under 66 years increased to €139.60 per week while a carer over age 66 years may be entitled to a maximum rate of €157.80 per week. The maximum weekly rate of old age non-contributory pension is €154. Thus the 10% of carer's allowance recipients who are over 66 years of age receive a higher rate of payment than recipients of old age non-contributory pension. In addition, all recipients of the carer's allowance receive an annual respite care grant of €835 and the free schemes, and a person caring for two or more people receives an additional 50% on their payment.
The cost of increasing the carer's allowance rates for carers under 66 years to the level of old age non-contributory pension would be in the region of €14 million annually. Such an increase in the rate of carer's allowance could only be considered in a budgetary context.