The €500 lump sum and €12 weekly welfare increases announced for carers and people with disabilities has been labelled “completely inadequate” by some campaigners, who say it won’t cover the cracks created by “constant underfunding” of services.
As part of Budget 2023, government has announced a €12 increase across the board to all weekly social welfare payments, which includes the weekly Carer’s Benefit and Disability Allowance.
In addition to tackle the rising cost of living, a once off €500 lump sum will be paid out in November to some 350,000 people in receipt of the Carers Support Grant or Disability Payment.
Rebecca O’Riordan, Cork Chair of Families Unite for Services and Support (FUSS) said that the once off €500 payments are “wildly inappropriate” and “fail to understand the difficulty of the situation” for parents caring for children with disabilities.
“We can’t use one off measures to cover the cracks that have been created by constants underfunding of public services. A €500 payment to carers, that is literally one late appointment in Temple Street or Crumlin, that’s what it translates to,” she said.
She said that people are being asked to “pick up the tab” for the collapse of children’s disability services, and that a €500 lump sum is “an insult to families” in comparison to the thousands of euros in costs for equipment, therapies and assessments.
“Anything that immediately puts money back into the pockets of people with disabilities and carers is obviously welcome, but only when it's done in conjunction with more long term plans,” she said.
On the €12 increase to weekly welfare payments, Ms O’Riordan said that this still leaves carers and disability allowances far below the cost of living.
She said that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Basic Income for Artists shows that “the government know full well that over €300 is what’s needed to survive every week”, and yet with €12 increases both carers and disability allowances remain “completely inadequate” at below €250 per week.
Elizabeth Maddox, of the Castlemartyr Family Carers and Disability Support Group, said that while she wished the €12 social welfare increase was larger, “beggars can’t be choosers” and the increase is “wonderful news”.
She said that the €500 once off payment for carers and people with disabilities is also “a good part of the budget”.
“I’m glad the Budget has put some thought into people with disabilities and carers this time around,” she said.
“It’s the first budget in many years that has positively looked at the welfare of people with disabilities and family carers, and old age pensioners as well… I’m pleased that for the first time this government has thought about people with disabilities,” she added.