Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD has called on Minister Joan Burton to do the honourable thing and reverse the cut to the Respite Care Grant.

“The cut to the respite care grant was particularly cruel and callous,” said Deputy O’Dea.

“I can’t even begin to explain how wrong this cut is. There are 5,000 people in Ireland who rely solely on the Respite Care Grant, the cut of 20% to this payment means carers will be down €6.50 a week to €26 a week. This could be the difference between having the heating on or eating a warm meal. This cut hits at the heart of Disability Services and shows just how removed the Labour Party is from reality. People don’t use the payment for holidays, they use it to pay bills and put food on the table.

“For the other 72,000 carers who are in receipt of the Carers’ Allowance, their weekly income will now be reduced to €229 per week. When you consider fuel costs, light and heat and food, this is a very modest sum to live on.  To hear Minister Pat Rabbitte yesterday describe the cut to the Respite Care Grant as ‘modest’ is particularly galling. The Minister should perhaps put himself into the shoes of a carer and try to survive on the allowance, we would see then if it is still ‘modest’.

“Family Carers provide €4 billion worth of care to the economy each year, over five times what they cost.

“This cut makes no sense at any level. If the Labour Party is to have any relevance in this Government, it must do the honourable thing by standing by these Carers and forcing a U-turn.”