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Carers using respite grant to pay bills, rather than for actual respite

This week 77,000 full-time carers are due to receive an annual respite grant of €1,700, but it’s unlikely to be used for holidays.

CARERS WHO RECEIVE their annual Respite Care Grant payment this week may be unlikely to use it for its intended purpose.

The Department of Social Protection is planning to pay out €1,700 to 77,000 full-time carers this week. The payment is made annually in June and costs the government €132 million.

According to the Carers Association this grant is notionally provided in order for the carer to take a break or holiday for two or three weeks, and to pay for someone to step in to look after the older person, or person with a disability.

However, David Lowbridge from the Carers Association told TheJournal.ie that more often than not “due to the nature of caring” this money goes towards paying essential bills, as it is usually difficult or impossible for a carer to take a break from the service they provide. He also highlighted that those who provide full time care are unable to work outside the home.

The grant is automatically paid to those in receipt of schemes like the Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and Domiciliary Care Allowance. Other full-time carers may also apply separately for the grant.

The Carer’s Allowance is paid at a rate of €204 a week to carers under 66, and €239 a week to those over 66. Lowbridge said that while any supports provided to families are appreciate, the Association feels that carers represent far more value.

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He also said that a troubling anomaly exists whereby if the person being cared for dies, even a week before the grant is due to be paid, it is immediately withdrawn. He said this can come as a blow to families who were depending on the money.

TheJournal.ie’s progress report for the Government: Disability, carers>

Budget 2012 readers’ panel: full-time carer>

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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