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Minister Varadkar ‘out of touch’ – Brady

30 June, 2016 - by John Brady TD

Speaking after Questions to the Minister for Social Protection in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection John Brady TD has said that the Minister is out of touch with the real world when it comes to back to school costs for families.

Deputy Brady made reference to the Back to School Costs Survey carried out annually by Barnardo’s and raised a number of concerns relating to its findings.

The Wicklow TD said:

“Sinn Féin has raised this issue time and again and the Government refuse to make any concrete commitment on assisting families with these enormous costs.

“Last year, Barnardo’s carried out their annual Back to School Costs Survey which found that the cost of sending one child to primary school is €390 and the cost of sending one child to secondary school is €785.

“Your Government cut this payment in two consecutive budgets. The rate paid for children of primary school age was €200 in 2011 but was cut back to €150 in 2012 and to €100 a year later. Parents now receive €200 for older students, compared to €305 in 2011 and €250 in 2012.

“Another major concern is the thresholds at which people qualify for this support. A couple with two children are not eligible if they earn over €593 a week, with a limit of €440 for a lone parent-of-two.

“These current limits need to be revised considering the rate of inflation and the increased costs and bills families are facing.

“With that, further additional costs faced by a growing number of parents include the introduction of iPads to schools which is indeed welcome but, does add costs.  In one case, a constituent contacted me about the compulsory purchase of an iPad at a cost of almost €700 with that there is an annual cost of €200 with insurance and updating of the software and book list year on year.

“As Budget 2016 made no impact on the cost of education, I call on the Minister to acknowledge and respond to the actual costs of sending children to school. One way to do that is to increase the Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance.” 

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