Varadkar introduces progressive measures for carers & lone parents from January

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• Carers to get extra 12 weeks of Allowance after person being cared for goes into long-term care
• Lone parents will be able to earn more while retaining benefits

New measures to benefit carers and lone parents will come into force in January after Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar signed them into law.

In 2017 carers will receive Carer’s Allowance for an additional 12 weeks if the person for whom they are caring moves into full-time care. There are almost 70,000 carers in Ireland it’s estimated that at least 1,000 will benefit from this extension in 2017.

The Minister also signed a law allowing lone parents to earn more while retaining their full One-Parent Family or Jobseekers’ Transition payment. The income disregards for the One Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Transition payment will rise by €20, from €90 to €110 per week, partially reversing previous reductions, to encourage one parent families to stay in and return to work. This will benefit lone parents earning more than €90 per week. Some 40,000 people receive the One-Parent Family payment supporting almost 73,000 children. Some 14,500 lone parents receive the Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment.

The change to the Carer’s Allowance is being introduced by Minister Varadkar following discussions with the Family Carer’s Association in the lead up to the last Budget. When a carer’s caring role ends with the care recipient moving into permanent residential care, the carer requires a transition period during which they can adapt to and plan for their life post-caring.

Minister Varadkar said: “This change means you can continue to receive your Carers Allowance for 12 weeks after the person you are caring for goes into long-term care. That’s to give you 12 weeks of income support after you have ceased caring to give you time to get your own affairs in order.

“Many carers find this a difficult from an emotional and financial perspective. They need this time to adjust and assess the options open to them in terms of up-skilling and work opportunities without having to worry about an immediate transfer to another social welfare payment. It’s something the Family Carer’s Association campaigned for and I was very happy to introduce this measure in Budget 2017, and it comes into law in January.

“I have also made a change to the Jobseekers Transition and One Parent Family Payment. This will allow parents who are working while receiving payments from my Department to keep more of the money that they earn. It’s designed to encourage more lone parents into work, to work more hours if they are able to do so, and allow them to keep more of their money when they do.

“These are two very progressive changes to the social welfare code. They come into force in the first week of January and will be the start of many more progressive changes to come.”

Carer’s Allowance
The number of people receiving Carer’s Allowance on 30th November 2016 was 69,957. Carer’s Allowance was introduced in November 1990. The current maximum rate of payment for a person aged under 66, and caring for one person is €204 per week, while the rate for a person aged over 66 is €239 per week. The annual Carer’s Support Grant which is paid in June is €1,700 in respect of each care recipient.

One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment
The One-Parent Family Payment means test is more generous than Jobseeker’s Allowance, with an income disregard of €90 per week in 2016 and the balance assessed at 50%. This will now rise to €110 a week. It can be paid concurrently with the Family Income Supplement.

The Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment is available to lone parents who have a youngest child aged 7 to 13 years inclusive. These customers are exempt from the Jobseeker’s Allowance conditions that require them to be available for, and genuinely seeking, full-time work. As such, no lone parent with a youngest child aged under 14 years is required to take-up employment in order to receive income support from the Department. They can also move into education and/or employment, including into part-time employment, and still receive payment, subject to a means test. The Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment means test currently has an income disregard of €90 per week with the balance assessed at 50%. The disregard with now rise to €110 a week.