Sinn Féin Donegal South West TD, Pearse Doherty has hit out at the suggestion that capital assets should be included in assessments for the means test for student grant applications.
A report proposing inclusion of capital assets as well as income in the assessment of applicants for student grants is to due be presented to Education Minister Ruairí Quinn in early September after the Dáil recess.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Figures available from Teagasc show that in 2009, the average farming income in Donegal was €11,968. A Teagasc report for 2011, shows that only one third of farms are economically viable farm businesses and 35% of farm households are classed as economically vulnerable across the state.
“If the proposal announced in the Budget for assessing capital and productive assets, for student grant applications materialises, this will unfairly penalise farmers, landowners and people who are self-employed.
“In one of the worst summers of the year, many farmers across the country are struggling to make ends meet and the timing of this report is likely to add further financial pressure to already struggling industries.
“Minister Quinn is showing just how out of touch he is with rural Ireland – this proposal will exclude many students of farming and small business backgrounds from availing of the student grant scheme, even if they come from households with low incomes.
Deputy Doherty continued:
“The Minister should take note of the fierce opposition to this move and find a way to ensure that any new system of assessment for the student grant is fair, equitable and takes into account the true income of the household and the ability to pay.”