The publication of Budget 2022 today includes the first major reform of Carer’s Allowance in over a decade, as well as a very welcome expansion of the Domiciliary Care Allowance, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said, “After working with families on the issue for the past 18 months, I’m delighted to see a big change to the Carer’s Allowance in Budget 2022 whereby the means test will be broadened to allow couples with a weekly income of up to €750, and single people with a weekly income of up to €350, to receive the payment. There will also be an increase in the capital disregard for Carer’s Allowance to €50,000. This is an increase of €30,000 from the current capital disregard of €20,000. This reform will be implemented in June 2022.
“There will also be a change to the Domiciliary Care Allowance, which will now be paid for children who are in hospital for a period of six months, as opposed to the current three-month period. This will be implemented from January 2022. Additionally, there is a commitment from the Department of Health to reduce the financial burden of hospital charges for children in hospital. On this issue, I encourage Minister Donnelly to listen to the group of people I have been in touch with as we have strong experience on what is needed.
“Qualification for a full or partial Carer’s Allowance was first raised with me by local families affected by the issue during the General Election in the early weeks of 2020, and again after my election in April 2020. The families, like so many others, had gone from a two-income household to a one-income household when their child became ill, and faced greatly increased medical and hospital travel related bills.
“The costs faced by families with seriously ill children is something I, and my colleague Councillor Vicki Casserly, have seen personally through our experiences of the paediatric hospital system. We met Minister Heather Humphreys in February 2021 to set out what we thought was needed in Budget 2022 – namely getting more families into the threshold for the Carer’s Allowance, as well as a substantial change to the Domiciliary Care Allowance.
“In April of this year, Councillor Casserly and I met families with seriously ill children from all over Ireland to make sure we were taking the right approach in seeking additional supports for families during their most vulnerable time. This public meeting was also attended by the CEO of Children in Hospital, Anna Gunning, and the Chairperson of Ronald McDonald House, Marian Carroll. These are two organisations that see and experience, on a daily basis, the practical issues faced by families with a child suffering from a long-term illness.
“Since then, I have worked closely with Councillor Vicki Casserly to deliver positive, constructive change to tackle the financial burden faced by parents of children in hospital.
“Councillor Casserly and I hope that today’s announcement will bring some relief to families in this most vulnerable and stressful time. We know well just how tough it can be, and we are glad to see this strong step towards achieving better support for them.
“I will continue to work with and advocate for families and parents of children who require long term care and hospital stays. This is the first step in helping families living in the most difficult of circumstances and making their lives just that bit easier. I want to thank Minister Humphreys and Minister Donnelly for backing these important changes for families with very seriously ill children” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.