I thank the Deputy for the question and the important issue he is raising. It is important to say at the outset that the SUSI scheme does take account of the circumstances of people in receipt of the working family payment. First, as the Deputy knows, the working family payment is treated as an income disregard. This means that it is not included in the reckonable income for the student grant means test. Furthermore, unlike other social protection payments which are paid to individuals, the working family payment is a payment deemed to be paid to a family. In recognition of this, the SUSI scheme contains provisions which allow this payment to be recognised for the purposes of meeting the eligibility criteria for the special rate of grant, which is the highest maintenance grant support available. This ensures that those students most in need receive supports which are commensurate with their needs.
More widely, as the Deputy will be aware and as I have been outlining in the House this evening, as part of this year’s budget I and the Minister of State, Deputy Niall Collins, made the first substantial changes to the rates and thresholds for the SUSI scheme in a decade. We intend to do more in this regard. We will also be informed in terms of a more significant overhaul of the student grant scheme when we receive that finalised report of the student grant scheme review next month. This will be critical in informing decision-making in future Estimates processes about changes to the rates and thresholds, as well as informing policy priorities and future considerations. I will certainly ensure that any of the issues the Deputy illustrates in this House are considered in that context.