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Care Services: Motion (resumed) [Private Members]

Vote from 19/12/2012

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The following motion was moved by Deputy John Halligan on Tuesday, 18 December 2012: That Dáil Éireann: recognises: — the vital contribution carers make to the economic and social life of the nation, and further acknowledges this by providing them with adequate income supports; — that carers are real and equal partn

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Background information

The following motion was moved by Deputy John Halligan on Tuesday, 18 December 2012: That Dáil Éireann: recognises: — the vital contribution carers make to the economic and social life of the nation, and further acknowledges this by providing them with adequate income supports; — that carers are real and equal partners in the provision of care at every level of public sector planning and service delivery, from designing a service to individual care planning; — that carers are the backbone of the Irish health care system; — that although family carers in the majority of cases are on call 24 hours per day and 365 days per year, they do not earn the national minimum wage and are not entitled to, inter alia, sick pay or holiday pay as are equivalent PAYE workers; — that family carers provide €4 billion worth of care each year, which is five times the actual cost to the Department of Social Protection; 733 Dáil Éireann — that carer’s allowance is a direct support for caring duties; and — the home as the centre of care and the need to protect the household benefits pack- age and free travel pass; acknowledges: — that full-time family carers are expert care partners and as such should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve; — carers’ rights to have their own health needs met; — that transitional arrangements need to be put in place to facilitate long-term carers successfully re-entering the work force; — the necessity to ring-fence funding for the housing adaptation grant scheme to ease the burden on local authorities who have had to suspend schemes in their areas; and — the need for a nationwide personal care traineeship scheme using existing labour to be developed as an additional basis for home help support; and calls on the Government to: — immediately reverse the cut announced in budget 2013 which will reduce the amount of the respite care grant; — make provisions from within the special delivery unit budget allocation to incor- porate carer induction training and needs assessment prior to a patient being discharged; — eliminate the current backlog of carer’s allowance applications by early 2013; — provide free general practitioner care to full-time family carers; — conduct a detailed review of the income supports available to family carers and engage agencies such as the Carers Association to provide their expert opinion; — establish a working group to properly identify the needs of carers, including any unmet needs, to gather information about policies, practices and services that affect car- ers and to set out an integrated strategy for future action; — establish a statutory entitlement for family carers and people in care to avail of care supports provided by community based services; — pay carers such statutory entitlements as the national minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay; and — ensure that the relevant Departments draw up and put in place a programme of work to promote the adoption of good practice in carer-friendly employment” Debate resumed on amendment No 1: To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following: “notes that: 734 19 December 2012 — carers make a vital contribution to the economic and social life of the nation; — the income supports which are available to carers from the State are among the highest rates of income support in Europe; — the income disregard and means test for carer’s allowance is the most generous in the social welfare system; — a person getting certain qualifying payments and also providing full-time care and attention to another person can keep their main social welfare payment and get a half rate carer’s allowance as well and that these rates were fully protected in budget 2013; — carers also receive a free travel pass at an annual cost of €6 million and carers who reside with the care recipient are eligible for the household benefits package at an annual cost of approximately €30 million; — carers are entitled to an extra half-rate carer’s allowance if they care for more than one person and a respite care grant for each care recipient; — the respite care grant is available to all full-time carers regardless of their means; — the Government had to make very difficult decisions in the course of budget 2013 in order to protect core weekly payments which people receive such as pensions,disability, jobseeker’s and carer’s allowances; — the revised rate of the respite care grant of €1,375 will still be more than what it was in 2006 at the height of the economic boom when the rate was €1,200 and more than twice what it was in 2002 when it was set at €635; and — the estimated expenditure on carers in 2012 is over €771 million: €509 million on carer’s allowance, €24 million on carer’s benefit, €135 million on the respite care grant and €103 million on domiciliary care allowance and that this represents an increase of almost €20 million on expenditure in 2011; welcomes: — the publication of the National Carers’ Strategy in 2012 which, for the first time at national level, recognises the value and contribution of carers to society; — the roadmap for implementation in the strategy and the commitment to progress these elements of the strategy within the limits of existing resource constraints; and — the Government’s plans to reform the current public health care system by intro- ducing universal health Insurance with equal access to care for all and to introduce, on a phased basis, general practitioner, GP, care without fees for the entire population within its first term of office; and acknowledges that: — additional funding has been provided to meet the needs of the people receiving GP care and prescription drugs under the general medical services scheme, which now stands in excess of 18 million medical cards, representing an increase of 24% since the start of 2010; 735 Dáil Éireann — approximately 97% of persons over 70 years of age are provided with free GP and hospital services, as well as subsidised prescription drugs subject to a capped fee per item; — stable public finances are an essential prerequisite to long-term economic growth and job creation; — the State will only be able to access the markets successfully in the long-term if the markets believe we have a credible fiscal strategy and agree that our debt is sustain- able; — this Government continues to face a daunting challenge in repairing the economy and the public finances and that difficult decisions are still required; and — the Government has shown in budget 2013 that it is committed to meeting that challenge, and is determined that through good governance it will lead Ireland back to independent funding and sustainable growth in living standards and in employment” - (Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch)

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