There is payment clarity for some carers affected by the coronavirus but confusion must be cleared up for other people who hve had to stop working to care for somone during the Covid-19 emergency.
So said Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan. He has welcomed a series of clarifications on payment entitlements for Carers and Family Carers from the Department of Employment and Social Protection.
However, Deputy Nolan believes that some categories of carers, particularly those who have voluntarily reduced their working hours to care for a dependent family, member remain "very confused" about their eligibility for payments.
“At a time of such significant upheaval it is vital that we have real clarity and all the information necessary that will enable people to access their entitlements and supports.
"That is why I want to acknowledge the guidance on payments that has been provided by the Department to organisations like Family Carers Ireland.
"We now know for example that if you are were working less than 18.5 hours per week and receiving family carer and receive Carer’s Allowance, but have now lost your job due to Covid-19-you can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350. You will also be allowed to keep your Carer’s Allowance and receive an additional €350 to compensate for your lost earnings.
"This also applies to family carers in receipt of the Half-Rate Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit are if they have been laid off due to COVID-19.
"What we need further engagement on however is payments for those who voluntarily reduce their working hours to look after a child or family member who may have a profound intellectual disability and who has been told to self-isolate.
"As I understand it at present, if you voluntarily give up work even for genuine reasons, you are not eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
"This is an anomaly that must be addressed specifically because it will disproportionately affect Carers.
"We know that people who have been medically directed to self-isolate may be entitled to an enhanced Illness Benefit of €350. Surely the logic of this position could be extended to Carers who have chosen to self-isolate in order to safeguard the health of their loved ones.
"I have engaged with the Minister’s office on this issue but I am still awaiting her response.
"I would encourage all those Carers who are in any way unsure about their entitlements to contact Family Carers Ireland or access the following link,” concluded Deputy Nolan.