Family Carers Ireland was awarded funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to complete a piece of research ‘Valuing Care Work: Improving Family Carers’ Access to Adequate Income Supports’. In collaboration with Professor Mary Murphy and Dr Pauline Cullen, Maynooth University, this project aimed to develop an income support reform proposal with implementation recommendations. By completing a literature review, qualitative interviews, a Merging of Knowledge Workshop and a policy analysis the research team examined the challenges carers experience in accessing Carer’s Allowance. The research merged the knowledge of carers, practitioners and academics to develop a concrete income support reform proposal with implementation recommendations for carers.
The recommendations developed from this research focus on what needs to be done to advance a new income support for family care – Family Carer’s Income Support. This builds on previous recommendations by NESC (2020) and the Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality (2022) which proposed that a Participation Income be established for care work. Participation Income is when ‘people are paid, not for doing nothing, but in exchange for an activity that is useful for the society’ (Atkinson, 1996). It is noted the dominant concern that underinvestment in, and lack of adequacy of, services is also a clear priority for family carers, and our recommendations need to be understood in this context: parallel investment in comprehensive services is essential.
The report recommends:
- Introduction of a Participation Income based non-means tested Family Carer’s Income Support (FCIS) for all family carers who fulfil the assessment criteria.
- Establishment of a Participation Income FCIS Implementation Group.
- Ensuring adequacy of Participation Income FCIS by benchmarking and indexing the payment in line with Commission on Tax and Welfare recommendations.
- Establishment of a Navigational Operations Group to improve navigational processes related to applying for and proving eligibility for a new FCIS and for existing payments.
More details about these recommendations including suggestions for their implementation and appropriate timelines for the implementation of each recommendation can be found in the full report here.
If you have any questions in relation to the report, please contact Dr Nikki Dunne, Research Manager, Family Carers Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org.