Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has demanded that the Government immediately reverse the deeply unfair and mean-spirited cut to the respite care grant.
The Laois/Offaly TD has revealed that 1,217 carers in Offaly will be directly affected by this callous cut. Over 80 of them do not get any other payment from the State, and the Fianna Fáil Deputy said that this cut is ‘particularly devastating’ for them.
“This is just the latest callous cut in what has been a sustained and targeted attack on people with disabilities, their families and their carers over the past year. Not only did Labour and Fine Gael ignore the outcry over savage cuts to home help hours and the sneaky reductions in disability services, they launched a further attack on the most vulnerable people and their carers in Budget 2013,” said Deputy Cowen.
“Have they no idea just how badly this is affecting more than 12 hundred carers in Offaly and tens of thousands of others across the country? In the space of just 18 months, Fine Gael and Labour have returned to the disability sector again and again for deeply unfair cuts that have an enormous impact on the health and independence of people who desperately need support.”
The 20% cut means that 1,217 carers across Offaly will be down €6.50 a week or €325 a year.
Deputy Cowen continued, “One Cabinet Minister attempted to dismiss the impact of this cut by describing it as ‘modest’. I have spoken to a number of carers in my own area over the past number of months who are already under severe pressure as it is, and I know that for them this cut is far from modest.
“On top of everything else, this budgetary measure doesn’t even make any financial sense. The overall savings at €26 million are relatively small, while the continuing attack on supports for people with disabilities and their carers will push people onto the already overburdened hospital system. Instead, why didn’t the Government increase the Universal Social Charge for people earning over €100,000 a year, as Fianna Fáil proposed in our alternative budget? This would have saved €200 million – 8 times the savings from the respite care cut.
“I am urging Labour and Fine Gael TDs in Laois-Offaly and across the Midlands, to stand up for the thousands of carers in this region who save the State and our local health services a fortune by caring for their loved ones at home. They have a chance this week to vote against this callous cut when it is debated in Leinster House. I hope they will do the right thing,” said Deputy Cowen.
Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil reveal that there are 1,271 carers in Offaly and 939 in Laois; 1,246 carers in Westmeath and 776 carers in Longford in receipt of the respite care grant.