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Means testing for Carers Allowance must be abolished – Crowe

19 April, 2007

During a meeting with the Clondalkin and Tallaght Carers' Association today, Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe assured the organisation, which represents 8,037 family carers in South Dublin, that ensuring proper financial support to home carers and ending the means test for the Carers Allowance will be a priority for Sinn Féin in Government.

Speaking after the meeting Deputy Crowe said "Carers need to be recognised for the invaluable service they provide to their communities by caring for family members in what is often a challenging and isolating environment. This voluntary care of those with special needs is critical to the primary care system and as such needs to be recognised by the state. A point made to me repeatedly today was that carers feel invisible.

"Many people who are caring for someone do not necessarily see themselves as a 'carer', rather they are a mother, father, sibling, spouse or close neighbour. Identifying themselves as a carer can be an important step in ensuring that the best possible support is provided for those with special needs. It can also play a vital role in maintaining the physical and emotional well being of the carer. Isolation and having to provide 24-hour care can lead to depression and a myriad of illness.

"Sinn Féin demands the abolishment of the current means test for full-time. As an immediate step to addressing the inequity of the Carers' Allowance the payment should be increased to the same payment given to Foster Carers'. A longer term solution would be to replace the present Carers Allowance with an expanded payment scheme that adequately reflects the value and needs of the practical work and emotional support provided. Family Carers provide 3 million hours of work every week and this is worth over 2 billion euro to the economy every year. Maintaining home support makes economic sense."

"Family carers face huge difficulties accessing services such as occupational therapists, medical support, specific therapies for intellectual, emotional or physical disabilities or even something as basic as the provision of incontinence nappies. These difficulties cause endless frustration for families attempting to access help and supports. This red tape should be cut and the whole process made simpler.

"Families on low incomes and without carers suffer immense hardship. The tremendous practical and emotional support of organisations such as the Carers Association cannot continue to be used and abused by the current government as a get-out clause for state provision of training, access to information & supports, respite breaks and financial help." ENDS

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