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Six week backlog for Back-to-School allowance applications unacceptable – Crowe

24 August, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson, Deputy Seán Crowe, has described a possible six-week backlog in the processing of Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance forms as ‘unacceptable’ and a serious set back to low income families with children who are attending school. Crowe said the Minister was dithering while families awaited their badly needed entitlements.

Deputy Crowe said:

“Today’s announcement from the Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, that there could be a six-week delay in processing back-to-school allowance forms is simply unacceptable. With just days before the new school term commences, thousands of families who are already struggling to make ends meet could be forced to wait until well into October, or even later, before receiving their entitlements for school clothing and footwear.

“It is not good enough for the Department of Social Welfare to use the excuse of increased applications for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) to justify the delay in processing this payment. The Department only started dealing with the 66,000 applications received in the second week of July, and they are only able to process 1,000 forms daily, so clearly the present system was going to be overwhelmed.

“Internal memos circulated by Minister Burton’s department state that it could be months before the backlog is cleared.

“The €200 available to parents qualifying for the allowance for children aged 11 and under and €305 for children between 12 and 22 are to assist with clothing their children for school. Many of the 66,000 applications for the allowance are from people who are already in receipt of vital allowances like the Disability Allowance, Occupational Injury Benefit and Carer’s Payments and on those incomes, cannot afford to wait until October or November for this payment.

“The Minister needs to intervene and ensure additional resources are in place so that families can have quick access to this essential grant. She needs to stop dithering and address this matter urgently.

“There are enough unemployed people available and willing to work to process these applications.” ENDS

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