The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme, which is administered on behalf of my Department by the health boards, is designed to assist certain recipients of social welfare and health board payments with the cost of children's school uniforms and footwear. Certain people on low incomes who are in receipt of family income supplement may also qualify for assistance.
In order to qualify for the allowance, the applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying payment and must satisfy a means test. The means test takes account of any income over and above the appropriate rate of survivor's (widow's and widower's) contributory pension plus £5 where the guardian is single, and contributory old age pension plus £5 where the guardian is one of a couple. Where the income of a household exceeds these limits, the back to school clothing and footwear allowance is not payable.
This year the back to school clothing and footwear allowance is paid on an age related basis. The rates of allowance payable have been increased by £3. This means that under the 1996 scheme, an allowance of £43 is payable in respect of children from two to 11 years of age and an allowance of £58 is payable in respect of qualified children from 12 to 21 years of age. I have extended the scheme to recipients of unemployability supplement who satisfy the means assessment.
Orphan's pension is not considered to be a qualifying payment under the terms of the back to school clothing and footwear scheme. The orphan's pension, which is a basic social welfare payment, is payable to the guardian and is intended to cover the child's cost of living, including food and clothing. Eligible applicants will receive either a contributory or non-contributory orphan's pension of up to £42.60 per week.