Back to School Allowance Issues Should have been dealt with months ago

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has said that issues related to back to school allowances should not have been left to the week when school returned to sort out.

On August 10th last, Deputy Carey warned the government through a media release that parents in many counties, including County Clare, were facing long delays and hardships due to the length of time it was taking to process claims.

Since then, Deputy Carey has invited parents to contact his office directly with issues and details of delays on payments and allowances.

He has had many parents contact him on his Facebook page and express their anger and frustration at the current system. Many parents could be weeks away from getting payment and are incurring financial hardships and taking out loans and using credit cards in an effort to meet back to school costs.

Over 20 parents have responded on Deputy Carey’s Facebook page detailing their experiences.

Deputy Carey said:

“If you look at my Facebook page alone you will get a sense of the anger and despair that parents are feeling. They have been totally left behind this summer by government who instead of taking a shorted break and getting on with running the country took almost the whole summer off.”

“Parents have contacted my office in droves with some really heartbreaking situations and worried about how they will pay for school books, and uniforms and clothing for their children because payments are late.”

“Now, and only now we hear that government and finally going to listen and hire additional staff to cope with the backlog of allowance claims.

Yet why couldn’t this have been done at the start of summer? I highlighted these issues almost a month ago and other politicians in other constituencies did the same. And it’s only now something is being done about it?”

“The huge amount of stress and needless worry parents have been put through because of government is not on. We first had the worry of school transport fees and thankfully, through Dáil questioning I have a commitment that these will remain as they are for the coming academic year. Yet back to school allowances are vital for many families, particularly with rising unemployment levels.

I believe also that we must start looking at innovative ways of reducing schoolbook costs, either through digital online material or long term text commitments. Some texts are being changed every two years making it impossible for parents to buy second hand copies. Every effort must be made and looked at to lessen the burden on parents at this time, with some families spending upwards of €700 per child.”