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Proposal to link Child Benefit to School Attendance is not workable – Nolan

12 May, 2016

Newly appointed Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Deputy Nolan, has today criticised the proposal in the Programme for Government, which links the payment of Child Benefit to school attendance rates. Deputy Nolan states that such a proposal is unfair and targets particularly vulnerable children.

Deputy Nolan said:

“Like many of the proposals contained in the Programme for Government, there is little detail in terms of the proposal to link Child Benefit with School Attendance Rates.

“On the face of it, the wording of the proposal would seem to suggest that school authorities would be placed in the position of ultimately deciding the rate of payment of Child Benefit.

“While I acknowledge, that in certain cases, there needs to be action taken to improve school attendance rates, it is my strong view that linking them to the payment of Child Benefit is simplistic and counter-productive.

“It has been shown through all independent analysis that the children most likely to leave school early or have particularly poor attendance records are those from particularly disadvantaged backgrounds or are otherwise vulnerable.

“For this reason, it is even more important that the appropriate supports for the child are strengthened and enhanced rather than taken away as a punishment.

“Furthermore, in cases where there is an issue in relation to attendance, the school can often provide invaluable support to the family in helping to resolve these issues.

“This proposal could undermine the trust that is needed between the school and family that is needed to resolve these issues for the child concerned.

“The only winner from this daft, ill thought out proposal is the Department of Social Protection and if this Government is serious about tackling the issue of school attendance it should start by committing the extra resources to the School Completion Programme.”

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