Government reducing back-to-school costs for families - Burke

The Government is reducing back-to-school costs for families, according to Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, Peter Burke.

Speaking about the financial burden on families, the Westmeath native said this time of year can be extremely expensive for families with school-going children.

“That is why the Government has increased the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance by a significant 25 per cent in order to help ease the pressure on families. In 2017, the Government will spend more than €47 million on this measure.

Some 194,000 children across the country will benefit from the allowance which is increasing from €100 to €125 for children aged four to 11 and from €200 to €250 for children aged 12 years and over.

Deputy Burke added that to further protect people on low incomes the Government has ensured that the increases in social welfare announced in Budget 2017 will not affect people’s entitlement. The income limits were adjusted in order to ensure that families are not unfairly penalised.

He said Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, is also introducing a range of measures to give parents a strong voice in ensuring school costs are kept to a minimum.

“For example, schools have been instructed to do everything possible to keep costs down for parents, when it comes to uniforms including the use of generic items, sew-on or iron-on crests, making sure that various elements of the uniform can be purchased in multiple stores, and operating a school book scheme," Deputy Burke commented.

Parents will also be asked for their views about school uniform and other costs, through a questionnaire. Schools which introduce cost-effective principles will be rewarded through premium capitation payments.

Parents who qualify automatically will have received a letter from the Department of Social Protection and should have received their payment in July.

“For anyone else wishing to apply, the allowance is available to parents who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments or taking part in training, employment or adult education schemes. The closing date for applications is September 30 and I encourage parents to check out www.welfare.ie to find out all the information they need," Deputy Burke concluded.

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