Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Ceisteanna (513, 514, 532)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

513. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will reform the means test for carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38466/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

514. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will increase the income disregard for carer's allowance from €332.50 to €450 for a single person and from €665 to €900 for a couple; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

532. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to revise the means test for carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 513, 514 and 532 together.

The Government acknowledges the important role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role. This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for a Partnership Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.

My Department provides a range of supports to those who are caring for family members, friends or neighbours. These measures aim to recognise the needs of carers through the provision of appropriate income supports, to enable carers to remain in touch with the labour market to the greatest extent possible and to empower carers to participate fully in economic and social life. These income supports include the following:

- Carer’s Allowance

- Carer’s Benefit

- Carer’s Support Grant

- Domiciliary Care Allowance

Spending on these payments in 2019 is expected to exceed €1.2 billion.

Carers may also (subject to certain conditions) qualify for the Household Benefits Package and a Free Travel Pass.

I am advised that it is not possible to make a robust estimate of the costs requested on the level of additional programme costs using available administrative data, particularly as such a change would be highly sensitive to the income distribution in households at the time of implementation. However, analysis based on the SWITCH model (Simulating Welfare and Income Tax Changes) predicted that an increase in the disregard of €117.50 (single) and €235.00 (couple) per week could cost in the region of €73 million, which, when income tax and Working Family Payment offsets are taken into account, produces an estimated net expenditure of €55 million.

Any changes to qualifying criteria for these schemes, including income disregards, would have to be considered in an overall budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.