Wednesday, 9th February 2022: Family Carers Ireland is calling on the Government to provide additional supports to help family carers face the rising cost-of-living crisis.
As energy prices soar and households across Ireland face increased fuel and household bills, many family carers will be simply unable to cope without urgent measures.
Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland said: “Family carers often face higher bills, particularly energy, health and transport bills, than the wider population when caring for someone ill or frail and desperately need targeted support to ensure they can make ends meet over the coming months.
“We are seeing unprecedented levels of stress and financial worries piled on family carers. Many were already struggling to manage and the increases in energy bills and cost of living could push them into financial difficulty leaving some facing extremely difficult decisions.
“It is absolutely vital that the Government acts urgently to ensure that family carers are supported and this can be done through a number of targeted measures including:
- Extend eligibility for the Fuel Allowance so that family carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and Half-Rate Carer’s Allowance payments would be entitled to receive this vital support towards their rising fuel and household bills. This would include increasing the €120 excess to €140 and making Carer’s Allowance an eligible payment.
- Provide a once-off payment of €300 to all family carers in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant to help with rising costs.
Another measure that would help to relieve the pressure would include extending the Carers GP Visit Card to include those in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant (currently only available to those receiving Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit) in recognition of increasing health-related costs. This is one of the 18 commitments in the Programme for Government that has yet to be progressed.
“Without targeted additional supports, family carers could be pushed permanently into poverty. Steps must also be taken to address the longer-term financial insecurity they face.
“Family carers were ignored when it came to the Covid bonus payment and they were left behind during the pandemic when it came to the provision of PPE, priority testing and vaccination. The Government now needs to recognise the hardship that so many families are experiencing in looking after their loved ones.
“Family carers are propping up our struggling health service. They save our State €20 billion each year. The question should not be whether we can afford to support them, but whether we can afford not to.
“Actions speak louder than words. We’re asking the Government to finally do the right thing and recognise family carers.”