Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has said that many families are worried that they will not receive the back to school allowance in time for the next school year in September.
Deputy Carey made his comments as government confirmed the allowance to help with clothing and footwear. He warned that many families are having trouble getting appointments with community welfare officers and that applications may be delayed as a result.
He also warned that for new social welfare applicants, the summer may be over by the time they are able to apply and receive the funding. He has called also for a freeze on school transport rises for the next two years.
Deputy Carey raised this matter through a parliamentary question with the Minister for Health and Children on June 1st this year
Deputy Carey said:
“Finally, today the The Minister for Social Protection has committed to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance. What this means in effect is that parents will receive €200 for each eligible child between 2 and 11 years of age and €305 for each child between 12 and 22 years. A total of about 160,000 families are eligible for this allowance.
I note that Minister O Cuiv is asking parents to apply in plenty time to ensure that the payments are received before school terms starts. The waiting lists in some areas to get appointments and to have claims processed are becomming longer. There is a genuine fear out there that the school term will be well underway before these claims can be processed.
I would appeal to the Minister also to consult with his government colleagues and ensure that school transport costs do not rise by enormous hikes mentioned in the past months. If this happens then the supports provided now to families in terms of footwear and clothing will be null and void.
Now is a time for us to be investing in educaiton and making access to education easier for all families. There needs to be certainty that families can receive funding under schemes, such as the back to school allowance, and also that other costs will not be hiked up.
Until the Mininster and his government can do that, then announcements about extensive funding schemes will be met with a certain amount of scepticism from the public.”
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 1st June, 2010.
To ask the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements that are in place with regard to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance; the date from which applications will be accepted ; if additional staff will be assigned to processing this vital scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I understand that the HSE and officials from my Department have sought the agreement of the Department of Finance for a number of temporary posts for the administration of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance this year and that this has been agreed. However, I wish to advise the Deputy that due to industrial action affecting the Health Service Executive it is not possible for the Executive to supply the further information requested regarding the administration of the scheme. If this matter remains of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise it with me again in due course.