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Written Answers. - Family Support Services.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 191. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan  her plans to review the back to school clothing and footwear allowance to meet the increasing costs of the return to school for many families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18632/02]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by the health boards. The scheme is designed to assist certain recipients of social welfare and health board payments with the cost of children's school uniforms and footwear. Certain people on low incomes who are in receipt of family income supplement may also qualify for assistance. The scheme operates from the beginning of June to the end of September each year.

Under this year's scheme an allowance of €80 is payable in respect of qualified children from two to 11 years and an allowance of €120 is payable in respect of qualified children from 12 to 22 years. I am aware of the issues which arise for low income households faced with providing clothing and footwear for children at back-to-school time in September each year.

In that regard, in Budget 2002 the income limit disregard for the back-to-school allowance was increased from £5 (€6.35) to €50 to the benefit of an estimated 8,000 children this year. In addition the rate of the allowance payable in respect of qualified children of 12 years and more was increased from €99.04 to €120. These improvements came into effect in June 2002 in time for this year's scheme.

A working group is in the process of finalising a review of the back to school clothing and footwear scheme as part of my Department's series of programme evaluations. The review examined all aspects of the scheme including the rates of payment as well the income limits, the means test, time of payment, the eligibility criteria and other issues. The report will be published in the new year.


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