Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said the party has written to the Minister of Regional Development Danny Kennedy asking that carers who are being forced to pay public transport costs when accompanying the person they care for get free public transport.
“Carers save the government millions each year by providing a service that is invaluable to the person they care for yet they are paid very little in return.
“Most full-time carers get a small top up on their benefits and this is far below an average working wage. Yet many, who are family members, are constantly caring for their patients 24/7.
“However if the person being cared for has to use public transport to travel to hospital, go shopping or visit friends then the carer is expected to pay the full amount.
“This can become uneconomically viable and therefore a reason to restrict the mobility of a carer and those in need of one, especially those in rural areas who depend more on public transport.
“Sinn Féin has written to the Minister of Regional Development Danny Kennedy and will also be raising the issue with the Health Minister Simon Hamilton in order to allow free transport for carers when accompanying the person they care for.
“Carers need to be given full support in providing the service that they do and allowing them free public transport is one the issues we could address as soon as possible.”