Thursday, 6 December 2018

Ceisteanna (270)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

270. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which the back to school clothing and footwear allowance is calculated; if consideration is given to financial hardship in cases in which means may be in excess of the allowable limit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51428/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) 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 Government provided €49.5 million for the scheme in 2018 which operates from June to September.

The payment rates for the 2018 scheme were €125 for eligible children aged 4 to 11 years and €250 for children aged over 12 years and attending secondary school.

In general, the allowance is payable in respect of eligible children between the ages of 4 and 17 in respect of whom a qualified child allowance is being paid and eligible children 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.

To qualify for BSCFA a person must meet a number of conditions namely:

- The child must meet the age criteria.

- The applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying payment and getting an increase in that payment for the qualified child (except in certain circumstances).

- The assessable income for the household must be within prescribed limits.

- The applicant and the child (or children) in respect of whom the allowance is claimed must be resident in the State.

There are no current plans to amend the eligibility criteria for BSCFA. Any changes to the scheme would have to be considered in a budgetary context and within the scope of the overall resources available for welfare improvements.

Applications which are outside the terms of the BSCFA scheme will not qualify for payment under the BSCFA scheme. However, individuals who are refused a BSCFA payment may be considered for exceptional needs payments (ENP) under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme by the officers administering this scheme in the normal way.

Any persons who consider that they have an entitlement to an exceptional needs payment should contact the Department’s Community Welfare Service.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.