Carers make an immense contribution to Irish society. If it wasn’t for the work carers do in looking after children, people with disabilities, and the elderly, our economy would grind to a halt. One of our top priorities is to begin to recognise and value the work of carers.
We trust carers to know how best to do their work. We are therefore committed to offering carers choice. Carers should be accommodated in looking after their loved ones themselves, in accessing care in formal setting such as creches or respite centres, and in seeking help from supportive relatives.
Universal Basic Income
The cornerstone of our care policy is to support the principles of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). A UBI is an unconditional, non-means tested payment to every citizen in the State which facilitates the kind of activity that is not rewarded by the traditional economy – including care work. We will move towards this system with the following reforms to the tax and welfare system:
- Introducing refundable tax credits to support people in mixing work in the paid economy with work in the unpaid economy.
- Increasing child benefit in line with inflation to make sure that it continues to help parents into the future.
- Merging the State contributory and non-contributory pensions into a single, universal pension. Many carers are pensioners themselves, and they should have the full backing of the State in carrying out their important work.
- Restoring the age limit for the One Parent Family Payment from 7 years of age to 18 years inclusive or until a child has left second level education.
We will also launch a trial UBI study to investigate the feasibility of carrying out more substantive reform.
The current system which forces parents into unaffordable private childcare is not working. In addition to stopping the erosion of child benefit overseen by the Fine Gael led government, we will support SIPTU’s proposal to pay childcare workers through the exchequer. This would address three related issues – affordability for parents, pay for childcare workers and the quality of care in creche facilities.
Caring for the Elderly and for People with Disabilities
As with our childcare policy, we commit to providing direct support to carers while also investing in public services that will take the pressure off. We will increase the carer’s allowance and will increase the scheme’s earnings disregard to allow them to work in the paid economy without their payment being reduced. We will also entitle carers to 360 credits’ worth of free long-distance learning under the internationally recognised Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme. We will ensure the adequacy of respite care services and, most importantly, we will consult with carers on the best way to improve service provision in other ways.
Read more about our social care policy in our manifesto.