12.6.2013 Cut to respite grant goes ahead despite protests

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As events take place around Ireland to mark National Carers Week, a group of family carers gathered outside Dail Eireann Yesterday to protest the Government's decision to proceed with an almost 20% cut to the respite care grant. The cut was made by Government in Budget 2013 but family carers across Ireland had strong hopes that Government would reverse this cut before payments were made last Thursday. As the cut went ahead carers have decided to signal their frustration by protesting outside Leinster House on the first sitting Oireachtas day following Dáil recess. The 77,000 family carers in receipt of the Respite Care Grant will now see their payment reduced from €1,700 to €1,375, a 19% reduction. The Carers Association's current 'Give Carers a Break' campaign was launched appealing to Government to reverse the proposed cut to the Respite Care Grant and to implement no further cuts to carers' payments. As part of this campaign, family carers across the country were invited to tell their story and how cuts are affecting them. These affects include family carers stressing each night about money; many in arrears on payments; turning off heating and electricity; forced to sell their cars which are often their only means of transport; and even going hungry. "We are very disappointed and angry that Government has gone ahead with this savage cut to the Respite Care Grant. This payment is given to allow family carers take a much needed break from their often round-the-clock caring role. In reality it is also used for respite from financial worries and to cover the hidden costs of caring such as increased electricity, fuel and medical bills" said Catherine Cox, The Carers Association. "Family carers save the state over four billion euro each year and have no legal entitlements to holidays or even a day off. At a time of mass emigration and a rapidly ageing population, the demands on family carers have never been greater - and yet Government is making cut after cut with the respite care grant following the elimination of the mobility allowance and virtual abolition of the housing adaptation grant. The wellbeing of family carers is in serious jeopardy and we are facing a situation where they will just have to give up and hand their loved ones over to state care - costing considerably more." With family carers protesting the cut to the Respite Care Grant, The Carers Association are asking people to register their support to help prevent future cuts as part of the organisation's 'Give Carers a Break' campaign. See www.carersireland.com Over 60,000 people in Ireland care for a person with a neurological condition and the NAI is aware of the importance of the respite care grant to support the work of family carers.

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