I propose to take Questions Nos. 1762, 1763 and 1889 together.
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 has provided €56.3m for the scheme in 2019 which operates from June to September. Provision was made to increase the payment rates by €25 in 2019.
The payment rates for the 2019 scheme are €150 for eligible children aged 4 to 11 years and €275 for children aged over 12 years and attending secondary school.
115,000 customers were awarded the allowance automatically in respect of 209,400 children from a matching exercise on the Department’s computer systems and did not have to make an application. They received their payment during week beginning 8 July. Payments totalling €42.3m were made in respect of these customers.
In addition, the Department has received approximately 32,700 manual and online applications for the 2019 BSCFA scheme since the 24 June 2019. In total, BSCFA payments amounting to €49.6m have been made to 132,860 households in respect of 244,600 children.
Using the total number of children covered by the scheme in 2018 as a basis, the additional cost to increase the BSCFA rates by €50 would be €13.3 million.
Using the same basis, the additional cost of restoring the rates to the 2011 levels, i.e. to €200 for children aged 4 to 11 and to €305 for children aged 12 years and older, would be €11.1 million
Any increases to the rates of payment for the BSCFA scheme would have to be considered in a budgetary context.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy