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Home carers say additional tax credit as part of Budget 2020 'will be undercut by carbon tax'

An additional €100 in the Home Carer Credit was announced yesterday.

Image: Shutterstock/BMPhotolab

HOME CARERS HAVE expressed concern that an additional €100 tax credit announced for them as part of next year’s budget will largely be offset by a rise in carbon tax.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed yesterday that the value of the Home Carer Credit would increase by €100 in Budget 2020, bringing the total value of the credit to €1,600.

The measure – the only additional tax rebate announced as part of next year’s budget – was welcomed by home carers and advocacy groups, but some have expressed concern that it will be undercut by other measures.

From midnight last night, the €6 increase in carbon tax adds €1.02 to a 60-litre petrol fill, and €1.17 for a 60-litre diesel fill.

Damien Douglas, whose twin daughters suffer from Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome and require 24-hour care, told TheJournal.ie that a rise in carbon tax, while welcome for the environment, would likely make the additional rebate worthless for many carers.

“The rebate is an extra €100 a year and any increase is obviously welcome,” he said.

“But from most carers’ perspectives, there’s probably no improvement in real terms. An extra €100 over 52 weeks of the year works out at about €2 a week.

“I’ve a specialised van to care for my daughters, so the carbon tax is going to hit me. I put about €200 a month of diesel into it, so that will undercut any increase in the tax rebate.”

Meanwhile, advocacy groups and opposition parties were critical of other measures for carers announced by the government, particularly the provision of an extra 1 million funded home care hours, which was described as inadequate.

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty claimed that the provision was almost 1.5 million hours short of what is needed to clear the 7,300-strong waiting list of older people who require home help hours to stay in their own homes.

He described the current system of home care as a “lottery”, and suggested that 4,000 people would remain on the waiting list despite the government’s provision.

Family Carers Ireland also expressed scepticism over the government’s promise to deliver more hours.

“Given the failure to deliver on the promised hours for 2019, it is unclear as to how many of these ‘additional’ hours will be required to catch up on this year’s shortfall,” the group said in a statement following yesterday’s announcement.

“The announced increase of one million hours represents a 6% increase for 2020 which will not clear the current waiting list of 7,300.”

The group added that a similar increase in the homecare budget in 2018 led to a decrease in service levels, as much of the provision was absorbed in pay increases and travel costs for HSE staff.

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