The government's decision to slash State supports for carers has been branded 'a careless mistake' this week by an Irish MEP.
Independent MEP and long-time carers' activist Marian Harkin warned that although the move might save money in the short term, it could 'cost the country dearly in the long term'.
Under Budget 2011, the benefit allowance for carers was cut from €213 to €205. In a separate cutback, care allowances for people aged under 66 years has gone down from €212 to €204.
Ms Harkin also said it was an 'unfortunate irony' that the carers cuts came during a week when for the first time, EU employment ministers discussed the need for adequate training and working conditions for carers in all member states.
"At the same time as there is a growing realisation of the importance of carers at EU-level, the Irish government has seen fit to undermine the support systems needed for carers in our own country," she said.
Ms Harkin cited recent figures from the Carers' Association of Ireland, which show that carers save the State an estimated €2.5 billion a year. The figures are based on Census figures calculating the number of carers providing care at €12 an hour.