Armstrong devastated after Health Minister confirms he doesn't have legislative powers to give carers a COVID payment

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said she is “devastated” after the Health Minister confirmed his Department does not have the legislative powers to give a one-off COVID payment to carers here.

Ms Armstrong was speaking after Robin Swann stated in the Assembly yesterday (Tuesday) despite his attempts to provide carers with a financial award to recognise their contribution during the pandemic, it has ‘proven to be significantly more complex and challenging than originally thought’.

The Strangford MLA said it would come as another bow to thousands of unpaid carers across Northern Ireland.

“The Health Minister made a pledge in January to give unpaid carers a one-off payment. Last week, I presented a public petition to the Assembly calling on him to provide it,” she said.

“I appreciate the Minister has attempted to resolve this situation but it is devastating to hear it confirmed he does not have the legislative powers to give carers the COVID payment they deserve. This will come as another blow to thousands of unpaid carers across Northern Ireland, people who have been hailed as heroes.

“With regular respite care and day centre provisions still not returned, carers are exhausted, often having spent the entirety of the pandemic shielding with the person they care for. The mental and physical strain caring for a loved one is taking its toll and now it appears we have a health and social care system which is failing to care for our carers.”