Fianna Fáil Deputy for Roscommon/Galway, Eugene Murphy has called on the Government to recognise the work that family carers do and to ensure that people in receipt of the Carers Allowance are eligible for the full benefits in recognition of their service.
Eugene Murphy has also called on the Government to tackle the lengthy waiting times experienced by carers who are waiting for their payment applications to be processed. Deputy Murphy made the comments during National Carers Week.
Deputy Murphy raised the matter with the Minister for Social Protection through a parliamentary question last week when he called for family carers to be afforded a “full stamp”. Deputy Murphy said that he was disappointed with the Minister’s response which indicated that through the award of credits and the homemaker’s scheme, the social insurance system already gives significant recognition of the service provided by carers.
Deputy Murphy also queried the Minister for Social Protection as to why payment of Carer’s Allowance is seen as an extra income for carers. “In many situations it enables a loved one to stay in their home as opposed to costing the State thousands in residential care; and I called on the Minister to insure that Carer’s Allowance is means tested to ensure that families can continue to look after their loved ones,” said Deputy Murphy.
The Fianna Fail Deputy also raised the issue of the lengthy waiting times for carers who are waiting for payments to be processed. “I understand that the average waiting time for processing applications for the Carer’s Benefit and Carer’s Allowance is over 18 weeks. Meanwhile the average waiting time for processing appeals is an astonishing 23 weeks. We have a situation now where an individual could be waiting up to 41 weeks for a final decision to be made on their entitlement to these essential payments which is totally unjust,” said Eugene Murphy.
“Carers are under immense pressure due to their caring roles and the current waiting times are exacerbating what is already a very stressful situation. Carers provide an invaluable service to the state so it’s only fair that the Government shows them the respect they deserve.
“It’s encouraging to see the Fianna Fáil proposal to increase the Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit contained in the Programme for Government. However the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar must address the issue of lengthy waiting times for these essential payments,” said Deputy Murphy.