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Written Answers. - Carer's Allowance Scheme.

Wednesday, 8 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 1

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 171. Mr. N. Ahern Information on Noel Ahern Zoom on Noel Ahern  asked the Minister for Social Welfare Information on Prionsias De Rossa Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  the current number of claimants of a social welfare carer's allowance; the number of persons caring on a full-time basis for people with similar medical conditions who might qualify on similar criteria if there was no means test involved; and the assistance, if any, his Department or health boards will make available to such carers. [9054/96]

[180]

 173. Mr. N. Ahern Information on Noel Ahern Zoom on Noel Ahern  asked the Minister for Social Welfare Information on Prionsias De Rossa Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  the number of persons receiving a carer's allowance for each of the last five years; and the estimated total number of persons who would be eligible for a carer's allowance if there was no means test involved. [9053/96]

Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): Information on Prionsias De Rossa Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 171 and 173 together.

The carer's allowance is a social assistance scheme which provides an income maintenance payment to people who are providing elderly or incapacitated pensioners with full-time care and attention and whose incomes fall below certain limits.

At the end of March 1996 there were 7,521 persons in receipt of the carer's allowance. The number of recipients for each of the years 1991 to 1995 is as follows: 1991, 3,959; 1992, 4,437; 1993, 4,748; 1994, 5,392 and 1995, 7,189.

According to the most recent statistics available, about 1,600 persons who applied for the carer's allowance failed to qualify on means grounds. Consequently, if the means test was removed, that number of additional carers would have qualified together with an unknown number of carers who would satisfy the other conditions attached to the allowance but who did not apply on the grounds that they would not have satisfied the means test. It should be noted that there are various estimates of the number of people caring for relatives either full-time or part-time; one such estimate is put to 100,000.

In regard to other assistance available to carers, the respite care fund was established by my Department in 1993 to enable carers to avail of respite breaks from their caring duties. Responsibilities for the administration of the fund was transferred from my Department to the Department of Health last year.

Like most of the schemes operated by my Department, the carer's allowance scheme is kept under continuous review and, in this connection, my Department is in contact with the Department of [181] Health regarding provision for carers generally.


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