The Government’s decision to change rules governing the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA ) will leave people languishing on dole queues rather than allowing them to upskill and re-enter the workforce, according to local TD Denis Naughten.
He pointed out that the decision to disallow students in receipt of the BTEA from receiving the maintenance grant will backfire and lead to more unemployment.
“This decision will leave people languishing on the dole. Upskilling is vital not only for the economic wellbeing of an individual but also for the economy at large,” said Deputy Naughten.
“The BTEA is vital in this regard. It is a scheme that allows unemployed people, lone parents, and people with disabilities to go back to third level education and receive payments from the Department of Social Protection.”
In the last Budget the rules were changed so that new BTEA recipients could no longer receive the maintenance grant.
“Those in receipt of both the BTEA and the maintenance grant find the financial support invaluable and without it many simply cannot return to education. The Government decision effectively closes off a progression route for those hoping to return to study and is going to act as an obstacle for disadvantaged students,” said Deputy Haughten.
“We hear the Government talking about upskilling the unemployed yet at the same time it is withdrawing supports such as this which are fundamental to supporting people in the education system. This measure will force people who otherwise would be keen to upskill, to stay on the dole and will increase their dependency on the social welfare system in the long term.”