OVER 100 PEOPLE have gathered outside Leinster House this afternoon to oppose plans to cut respite care grants next year, as a part of Budget 2013.
Joan Burton’s Department of Social Protection intends to cut the annual payment from €1700 to €1325 next year.
The grant is seen by the government as a contribution which allows those receiving full-time care to move into a respite care facility, thereby allowing their carers to take a brief annual holiday. However, given the levels of other benefits paid to carers, it has come to be seen as part of their main allowances paid to carers.
The payment, which has been cut by 22 per cent, is made to about 77,000 families – around a third of whom are thought not to receive any other State payment.
The government has defended the cut, saying the only alternative was to cut carer’s allowance itself.
Joan Burton this morning said the payment was “regrettable” and that the respite care grant was “not as much as I would like it to be”, but that the Social Protection budget needed to be cut as part of the government’s overall spending cutbacks.