Local Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley is calling on the Government to improve the situation for Family Carers in the upcoming Budget.
“This week I met with representatives from Laois Offaly Carers to discuss the current situation of their members and service users.
“It’s clear that the last two and a half years has been a very difficult time for carers. While improvements have been made in recent years in terms of the supports they receive, further progress is required.
“The report from the Citizens Assembly on the role of carers underlined the need for carers to be recognised valued and supported and also highlighted the extra household costs that carers incur.”
“In their Pre Budget submission Laois/Offaly Carers are calling for an increase in the Carers Allowance payment, as the current rate of payment is only €3.50 more than it was in 2009.
“They are further requesting that they be included in the Fuel Allowance Scheme and also that there be an increase in the number of hours that a Carer can work part time outside of the home.
“One of the problems with the current Means Test, is that it does not take into consideration outgoings such as mortgage repayments or medical expenses.
“Other issues that need to be addressed include, the inadequate Child Disability Services. There are currently huge difficulties with accessing Psychology Services, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy.
“The upcoming budget presents an opportunity to fill some of the gaps in the Children’s Disability Teams and reduce waiting times which in some cases can extend up to three years.
“The Programme for Government stated that: We will deliver a Carers Guarantee proposal that will provide a core basket of services to carers across the country, regardless of where they live.’
“Unfortunately there are inequities based on geographic locations as some parts of the country have weaker services than others. Laois/Offaly is one of those.
“There needs to be a dedicated fund of €5 million per annum to provide a core basket of services in locations where there is a major shortfall in services.”
“Carers are fulfilling a vital role and I am calling on the Government to support them.”