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Local TD calls on government to ‘consider removing means test conditions for family carers’

The number of carers in Laois is on the rise

A local Independent TD fully supports Family Carers Ireland (FCI) in its call for a complete overhaul of the Carer’s Allowance scheme which would result in the abolition of the means test.

Deputy Carol Nolan was speaking after attending a briefing by the organisation on its proposals for Budget 2023 as well as its findings from the State of Caring 2022 report.

FCI says The State of Caring report found that over two thirds of family carers (68%) surveyed are experiencing financial distress, 13% are in arrears with their rent or mortgage and 16% are behind on utility bills.

Almost a quarter (23%) of those struggling financially are cutting back on essentials such as food and heat to make ends meet.

The report also suggests that significant numbers are experiencing fuel and food poverty and that 70% of carers are reporting difficulty accessing services for at least one of the people they care for.

More than half (52%) of those surveyed said that at least one of the people they care for are currently on a waiting list, while 69% experience barriers accessing respite.

Deputy Nolan said that family carers are estimated to save the state €20 billion annually.

She said: “Everyone is aware of the extraordinary lengths that our carers go to, day in and day out, 52 weeks of the year.

“So what I am saying quite clearly is that respect for this level of dedication and service provision must be reflected and acknowledged in Government’s policy and financial response to FCI’s pre-Budget submission.

“Government must urgently reassess the means test as so many people are missing out on vital supports because they are marginally over the income threshold. That must end.

“I was informed by the FCI during our briefing that many carers are struggling financially, physically and emotionally with 71% feeling left out of society and 51% reporting feeling severely lonely since the onset of the pandemic.

“It is simply inconceivable for Government to go on adding to these burdens by denying a modest financial support.

“That is why I am supporting the call for the weekly payment of Carers Allowance to be raised to €325 p/w.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.