Why are Carers suffering in silence? - McHugh
Speaking on the importance of Carers to our society and the protection of the vulnerable, Aontú South Belfast candidate, Chris McHugh stated:
"One of the largely ignored issues facing an estimated 220,000 people in the north (12% of the six-county population) is caring for family members or friends in either a full-time or part-time capacity. Carers NI, a phenomenal non-for-profit carers support organization, state that carers' economic contribution is £4.6billion, however Department figures show that only 42,000 people receive Carer’s Allowance.
"Carer’s Allowance (CA) is a non-contributory benefit for people who look after a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours per week. For the Carer to qualify for Carer's Allowance, a pithy £64.80, the person being cared for must be in receipt of either Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Attendance Allowance (AA).
"There are a plethora of issues that face our carers. Figures from the north's Statistics and Research Agency show carers to be in bad or very bad health and experiencing isolation. Over half of carers in the 2011 Census were providing unpaid care for 50 or more hours per week.
"While the majority of people provide unpaid care, Carer’s Allowance is leaving carers with little or no financial stability. The State of Caring Survey 2018 found that 37% of carers in the north are struggling to make ends meet and are falling into arrears with housing and utility bills, many are borrowing money on credit cards and taking out loans, while a further 20% said they are in, or have been in debt as a result of caring.
"In the last 12 months, many carers have received less care or support services due to the core grant from the Department of Health being reduced and this has also had a major impact on organisations within the sector.
"And yet, there was no reference made to Carers in the draft Programme for Government 2016 – 2021.
"If elected, I pledge to shine a light on this issue and to lobby for more financial and practical supports for Carers. I pledge to work closely with voluntary and community organisations and local carer support groups. Our Carers make a huge contribution to family, community and society, and they deserve to be recognised and supported.
"The current situation is unjust, unsustainable and completely unacceptable.
"Our Carers cannot continue to suffer in silence."