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Pat Rabbitte speaking during Leaders' Questions this morning Screengrab via Oireachtas
Leaders' Questions

Government defends decision to cut respite care grant

Pat Rabbitte said the government had had to choose between cutting carer’s allowance or cutting respite care.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS defended its decision to cut the respite care grant by more than €300 in Budget 2013.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte told the Dáil that the government had had to make a choice between cutting money paid directly to carers or cutting money allocated for respite care. He said the government had chosen to make a “modest” cut in respite allowance in order to protect the carer’s allowance.

“The people who do the caring will get exactly the same allowance as before the Budget. The people who are entitled to get the half carer’s [allowance] will get half carer’s just like the day before the Budget,” Rabbitte told the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this morning.

The annual grant given to people providing respite care for a family member is to be cut to €1,375, down more than €300. The grant is used by carers to pay for home care or to pay for residential respite care to give them a break from their caring role.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald called on the government to reverse the decision. “This cut is not even about fairness, it’s about decency – and making this kind of cut breaches decency,” she told the Dáil.

McDonald said the cut would affect 77,000 families, around one third of whom receive no other State payment.

Pat Rabbitte said the government had aimed to ensure that the caring profession was protected from the brunt of the cuts, and pointed to the retention of core social welfare rates as evidence that carers would not be adversely affected.

“”It was simply not possible to [make a Budget] unless savings were made across the board,” he told the Dáil. “Everybody had to contribute something”.

Separately, Minister Rabbitte did not answer questions from Fianna Fáil about tweets by Labour party chairman Colm Keaveney which indicated that he may not vote in favour of parts of the Budget which will be voted on next week.

Read: Counting the pennies: where your tax money will go in 2013 >

Live: Ireland hosts OECD meeting of the world’s foreign ministers >

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