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The Department of Social Protection released the following statement:

Over 71,000 carers are due to receive the Government’s Respite Care Grant, the vast majority of them this week (Thursday 3 June). This grant of €1,700 is available to all carers providing full-time care and attention to an older person or a person with a disability, regardless of their means or social insurance contributions.

Éamon Ó Cuív TD, Minister for Social Protection said: “This payment helps carers to get some respite for themselves or for the person they are caring for. This payment is made in the first week of June each year, since the Government introduced it in 1999. This year the grant will benefit over 71,000 carers.”

The Grant is paid automatically to carers in receipt of schemes, such as Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and Domiciliary Care Allowance. Other full time carers who are not eligible for these schemes may apply separately for the Grant. Carers who are providing full-time care for more than one person may be entitled to €1,700 in respect of each person that they are caring for. For example, a person giving full-time care to two people with disabilities may be entitled to €3,400.

The estimated expenditure on the scheme in 2010 is over €153m.

The Minister also said: “The Government is very aware and appreciative of the contribution made by carers and has sought to make improvements in services and supports for carers. Over the past decade, qualifying conditions for Carer’s Allowance have significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as half-rate Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit have been introduced and extended.”

The combined expenditure on Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit and the Respite Care Grant is expected to be over €725m in 2010.