Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey says that Budget 2017 has delivered a new deal for carers and the self-employed whose significant contributions to society have been largely overlooked.

“As a member of the Joint Committee on Social Protection, I was delighted that we could deliver long-term illness and treatment benefits for the self-employed as well as a number of improvements to the carer’s allowance,” he said.

“Under the new arrangement, the payment of the carer’s allowance will continue for 12 weeks when the care recipient permanently enters a nursing home. This comes on top of the existing 12 week payment in cases where the care recipient dies and is in addition to the €5 weekly increase in the Carer’s Allowance. A further €2 million in funding for pre-activation supports for people with disabilities is also being provided.

“Up to 380,000 self-employed people will have new benefits extended to them, including treatment benefit such as free eye and dental tests for the first time. They will also have access to the safety net of State income supports if they have a serious illness or injury that prevents them from working without having to go through a means test.

“This is all part of the Government’s policy of making work pay and encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship,” Deputy Carey explained.

“The budget also sees the re-introduction of some dental benefits linked to PRSI for all classes of PRSI payees, including employees, and special measures for working lone parents so they can keep more of the income they earn.”

“There will be a €5 weekly increase for all benefit recipients and while it is a modest budget and there are no giveaways, nonetheless, more than 840,000 people will benefit from the first increase in weekly payments since 2009,” he said.

“As part of Government policy to make work pay, lone parents are set to benefit from four measures in Budget 2017, in addition to the Childcare Package from the Department of Children.

These include a €500 annual Cost of Education allowance; a €5-a-week increase to the One Parent Family payment and the Back to Education allowance. There will be a proportionate €5 increase in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, which will become available more quickly following unemployment while the income disregard for the One Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Transition payment will also rise, representing a further potential increase of up to €10 a week.

Guardian’s payments, for those who provide guardianship for a child, will increase by €15 per week, from €161 to €176.

From next September, young jobseekers participating in the Back to Education scheme will receive the full adult rate of €193 per week.  Their current rate of weekly payment is €160.

Young people who are on reduced benefits will pay less towards the cost of their Rent Supplement. The personal contribution of young people on reduced benefits will be lowered from a maximum of €30 to €20 a week for those on the €144 or €160 rate, and from €30 per week to €10 per week for those on the €100 rate.