Back to School scheme must be delivered on time – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has learned that people applying for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance are set to experience major delays this year unless immediate action is taken to speed up the system of processing the increased number of applications.
“In my own constituency and across the State people who have sought application forms for the scheme have been told they are not available,” said Deputy Ó Caoláin.
“The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance scheme assists families on social welfare and on HSE payments towards the cost of uniforms and footwear for children who are attending school. Many families depend on this scheme to ensure that their children are able to avail of education. With growing unemployment the number of people qualifying is growing also.
“The scheme is supposed to operate from 1 June to 30 September. However, last year, forms were not available until the middle of June and many people did not receive payments until September. I understand that this year even worse delays are taking place. There are inadequate staffing levels to cope with the number of applicants.
“These delays cause real hardship. In many cases school uniforms come into the shops in June and parents need to budget to pay for uniforms, schoolbooks and other school expenses, spreading out their spending over the summer months. Delays to this scheme will see payments to which people are entitled delayed again until September or beyond.
“I will be raising this matter in the Dáil with the relevant Ministers and demanding urgent action, including recruiting additional staff and redeploying staff, to have the Back to School Clothing and Footwear scheme delivered properly and on time.” ENDS