Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (170)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

170. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will extend the income limit for back to school allowance to €700 to allow a couple who have both lost their employment and are on Covid-19 payments to qualify; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26047/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme provides a once-off payment to eligible families to assist with the costs of clothing and footwear when children start or return to school each autumn. The scheme operates from June to September each year. The allowance is payable for eligible children between the ages of 4 and 17 in respect of whom a qualified child increase is being paid. It is also payable to those between the ages of 18 and 22 who are in full-time second level education and in respect of whom a qualified child allowance is being paid.

The allowance paid for each eligible child aged from 4 to 11 years on or before 30 September 2020 is €150 while an allowance of €275 is paid for each eligible child aged over 12 on or before 30 September 2020.

Similar to previous years, the majority of customers are awarded back to school clothing and footwear allowance automatically and notification of the awards issued to these customers in late June. This year 115,000 families have been automatically approved for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of 211,000 qualified children. Payments amounting to €43m were made to these families in the week commencing 13 July 2020. In addition, payments of €6.7m have already been made to 16,500 families in respect of 33,200 qualified children from the applications received to date.

This year, the eligibility criteria for back to school clothing and footwear allowance has been extended to include the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment as a qualifying payment for the allowance. Recipients of this payment also need to satisfy all the other qualifying conditions in order to qualify which includes satisfying the income limits.

Income Limits for 2020 are:-

Couple with:

Income Limit

Lone Parent with:

Income Limit

1 child

€603.70

1 child

€438.30

2 children

€643.70

2 children

€478.30

3 children

€683.70

3 children

€518.30

4 children

€723.70*

4 children

€558.30*

* Limit is increased by €40 for each additional child.

The COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment rate of €350 has been reduced from 17th September 2020 to the following rates:

- €300.00 where prior earnings exceeded €300 per week

- €250.00 where prior earnings were between €200 and €300 per week;

- €203.00 where prior earnings were up to €200 per week.

There means that a couple who are both in receipt of the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment at the maximum rate of €300 per person from 17th September 2020 can qualify for the back to school clothing an footwear allowance providing that they don't have any additional household income.

The closing date for back to school clothing and footwear allowance applications is 30th September 2020.