Don’t Leave them behind received 3 cases this week alone whereby carers missed out on the Carers allowance due to means testing finding that their partners had €2, €5 and €8 over the levels required under the Department of Social Welfares means testing limits .
Social Welfare Inspectors are continuing to carry out home inspections during level 5 restrictions notwithstanding theft that all household lists are banned The Department considers their visits to be ” essential services ” clearly they regard their inspections to eb more ” essential ” than caring for a person with a disability .
These 3 cases had partners earning the standard living wage and no more . The carers involved are caring 24/7 and have not had a single hour rest or respite for 2020
Yesterday we had the first sitting of the Dail Disability Committee at which the great and the good of Leinster house and various organisations funded by the State to ” Act “ on behalf of people with disabilities have a discussion about disabilities and the issues faced by people with disabilities and their carers . Looking at the proceedings I could not see many people with disabilities or their carers centre stage at this meeting.
In Fairness the Minister for Disabilities Anne Rabbitte acknowledged ” the level of frustration and despair among people with disabilities and their carers ” she clearly is taking note of the issues after just 4 months in the job .
The Minister and her colleagues must stop the means testing of Carers Allowance which is cruel and in most cases a depressing experience for carers . A meeting with the relevant Ministers must be called to abolish the means testing of this allowance .
The Irish Government must deliver for carers who are saving the State over €3 billion a year , successive Governments have failed the crisis in funding for carers with poverty levels among carers and the people they carer for at an all-time high .
Ireland now has more unpaid family carers than paid carers shouldering ever more of the burden of providing care .The Government are happy to continue to exploit exhausted carers as demonstrated by the actions of the State during this COVID 19 Pandemic when the first support to be removed from anyone in society was Day Care Services and Respite , this removal took place because the Government through the HSE gambled on the fact that carers would not walk away from caring for their loved ones and this gamble has paid off with unpaid carers working 24/7 for the past 9 months and with no restoration for day care services.
We need to address the mess that has developed in the provision of Disability Services in Ireland and this should start with the carers roles must be regarded a a job and career with the a carers allowance that is set at the loving wage level , with a personal development plan for each carer to give them hope that they will be able to move into employment if and when the caring has concluded and with an integration of supports that give carers space to recover from the health effects of working 365 days a year with a break.
Structural Change in Disability Services is not that difficult to manage if the willingness is there and the desire to match the hollow words of support to carers for a change.