Time to End Means Testing for Family Carers

Posted on Tuesday 23 April 2024


Pictured at Leinster House from left to right are Clare Duffy, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Family Carers Ireland; Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy, Family Carers Ireland; Tracy Carroll, family carer; Willow Carroll; Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick; Deputy Seán Canney; Deputy Verona Murphy and Deputy Denis Naughten.

Regional Group of Dáil Deputies Proposes Motion to End Means Testing for Family Carers

The Regional Group, comprising of nine Dáil Deputies, is seeking cross party support for their motion to end the means testing of family carers. The motion seeks to replace the current system with a non-means tested scheme based solely on care needs, recognising the invaluable contribution of over 500,000 family carers across Ireland.

Family carers, who represent 1 in 8 of the Irish population, have long been the cornerstone of care provision in the country. However, the financial vulnerability imposed by the current means testing of the Carer’s Allowance has left many carers in precarious financial situations, often dependent on their partner's income. In many more instances carers and those whom they are caring for are struggling to make ends meet, forcing them to make a choice between food and fuel for heating.

Furthermore, the ‘State of Caring Report 2022’ produced by Family Carers Ireland highlights the significant challenges faced by family carers, including the battle in accessing services and carer’s themselves feeling undervalued by society.

The Regional Group, emphasised the critical need for legislative change: “The recent referendum has once again shone a light on the critical role carers play in our communities. For too long family carers have been left behind without proper support by the State. This needs to end now. It is time for the State to recognise and support family carers adequately. We urge all Dail Deputies to back the Motion that seeks to provide financial stability and recognition to family carers on April 24th”.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy at Family Carers Ireland, supports the call for reform by the Regional Group: “The means test for Carer’s Allowance is outdated, gender-biased, and no longer fit for purpose. Thousands of full-time family carers do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance due to modest household incomes, undervaluing the full-time work they provide. The introduction of a Participation Income* would mark a significant step forward in acknowledging and supporting the vital work of family carers in our society.”

The Regional Group’s Private Members Motion proposes the introduction of a non-means tested payment for carers by 2027, with a significant increase in the income thresholds from now until that date; a move that aligns with the long-standing advocacy efforts of Family Carers Ireland for a more inclusive and supportive system for carers.

The motion is set for debate on Wednesday the 24th of April which will be broadcast live on Oireachtas TV between 10am-12noon, with the Regional Group and Family Carers Ireland call on all members of the Dáil to support this motion, recognising the invaluable contribution of family carers to Irish society and ensuring they receive the support and recognition they deserve.