Angry reaction to report from Carers' Association


Anger and disappointment were the reaction of Carers' Association spokesman Mr Eddie Collins-Hughes to yesterday's report.

Abolition of the means test for the carer's allowance was the major demand of the association and this had been totally ignored, he said.

Earlier, he had heard the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs, Mr Ahern, warn guests at the launch of the report that "there are limited resources and competing demands. Those of you working in the health area will be particularly aware of this at this time. Difficult decisions have to be made by Government and reviews like the one we have today inform these decisions."

There were "significant costs" involved in some of the recommendations, he said, and the proposals and ways of financing them would require careful consideration. "Can I say that I am personally committed to moving this forward in the coming Budget," he said.

Mr Collins-Hughes said that he welcomed the proposal for a monthly payment (of about £100) to people caring for those who were at the highest levels of dependency. But because it was so restricted, only 2,000 people on the carer's allowance would qualify for this additional payment. There would have to be an appeals mechanism, he said.

He also welcomed the establishment of a working group to look at the question of giving carers and those they cared for a right to have their needs assessed. But abolition of the means test for the weekly carer's allowance "is the biggest single issue for carers," he said.

The Minister had gone out of his way to make it clear he did not regard the proposals in the report as binding and that he was not making a firm commitment on funding for the proposals, he said.