The Government acknowledges the crucial role that family carers play and is fully committed to supporting carers in that role. This commitment is recognised in both the Programme for Government and the National Carers’ Strategy.
The main income supports to carers provided by my Department are Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and the Carer’s Support Grant. Combined spending on all these payments to family carers in 2020 is expected to exceed €1.3 billion.
The Carer’s Support Grant is an annual payment of €1,700 a year for each care recipient paid in a single lump sum with no requirement to satisfy a means test. The Carer’s Support Grant is payable on the first Thursday in June each year. This is not available for any other group nor is there an equivalent payment for carers in any other country in Europe. The Grant is paid automatically to people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance. Other people who are not in receipt of a social welfare payment but who are providing full time care and attention are also eligible and can apply for a ‘standalone’ grant.
Notwithstanding the substantial extra financial demands due to the COVID-19 crisis, I confirmed, on 4 June, that the Carer’s Support Grant would continue to be paid to carers this year at an estimated cost of over €237 million. At the end of June 2020, almost 127,000 grants were paid to carers receiving the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit or Domiciliary Care Allowance and to other full-time carers who are not receiving any of these payments. Applications for the 2020 grant can be submitted up until 31 December 2021, and it is expected that further applications will be received before the closing date.
There have been calls from carers groups to increase the rate of the Carer’s Support Grant from €1,700 to €2,000. My Department has costed this proposal and the estimated additional full year cost of increasing the Carer's Support Grant from €1700 to €2000 is €41.9 million.
I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to keep the range of supports provided by my Department under review. However, any changes to the current supports provided by this Department would have implications for overall spending and would need to be addressed in an overall budgetary context.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.