THE boss of the Carers Association in Limerick has described the government’s €325 cut to the Respite Care Allowance as “sneaky”.
Collette Devlin was speaking after the government moved to reduce the Respite Care Grant from 1,700 down to €1,375 annually.
There has been a huge backlash against the measure, with 3,000 carers across the county set to be hit.
This week, carers staged a demonstration outside City Hall to protest against the cut to the grant, which is used to enable carers to pay for items which help them and the people they care for.
As the recipient is free to spend the grant as they wish, this sum is used for other things to help prop up a carers day-to-day finances.
Ms Devlin feels this will get worse, due to other cuts announced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan last week.
These include cuts to ESB support, and telephone allowances.
She said: “These people are the hidden helpers of the state, and they should be encouraged and helped. I have visited about 60 people since I started this job in September, and the love and care in the home is second to none.”
She also pointed out that many people rely solely on the respite care grant, because they do not fall into other welfare bands designed for carers: “77,000 people get the Carers Allowance. But there are 20,000 who do not get any allowance. So therefore, the Respite Care grant is crucial; for them, because this is all they get.”
Ms Devlin says this means the government is now getting care for €1,375: “If you divide that up by days and by hours, this is much lower than the minimum wage,” she added.
Fianna Fail’s spokesman on social protection Willie O’Dea appealed to Minister Joan Burton to reconsider the cut: “Carers in Ireland deserve to be cherished rather than punished. We will all play our part in resolving the problems the country faces but this is just naked cruelty.”