Sinn Féin Mayo Senator Rose Conway Walsh joined carers from all over the State in their demonstration outside Leinster House earlier today when they voiced their disappointment about the failure of government to recognise the work they do in the 2020 budget.
Speaking in Seanad Senator Conway-Walsh said:
“Urgent changes are needed to support our family carers. It is disgraceful that carers have to protest one week after the budget that does little for carers.
“We saw an increase in the hours carers can work or study outside the home from 15 hours to 18.5 hours each week and remain eligible for carers allowance, carers benefit or carers support.
“However, by not increasing the income disregard for Carers Allowance which has not changed in 11 years, carers who go out and work more hours could see their Carers Allowance cut if their income increases too much because of the extra work.
“We need urgent reform of the means test for carers. As one carer told me earlier today ‘yes we can work and extra 3.5 hours so long as we don’t get paid too much for it.’
“The Government had an opportunity to reinstate the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant which should never have been withdrawn in 2013.
“In rural Ireland and places like Mayo these transport supports are desperately needed to access services that have been centralised as well as to participate in activities to prevent social exclusion.
“Adequate homecare and respite should be an automatic right for any carer. While there was an increase in the allocation of home help hours the government’s own costings stated it would cost €59 million just to clear the waiting lists. Given the government’s failure to deliver on promised hours in 2019 it is unclear as to how many of these additional hours will be required to catch up on this year’s shortfall.
“Minister Regina Doherty told carers today that we needed a citizens assembly to get agreement of the needs of carers. I don’t accept this as see her suggestion as merely kicking the can down the road. Carers deserve better for the millions they save the State and the wonderful work they do every day and night.”