Over 4,700 families across Louth have received assistance in paying for school uniforms from the Back To School Allowance scheme, with Fine Gael TD for Louth Fergus O’Dowd saying that over €1.5 million has been spent on the scheme in the county.
The allowance provides a once-off payment to eligible families to assist with extra costs, in this case for uniforms and shoes, as children start school again in September. In 2017, families have benefitted from €25 and €50 year on year increases.
O’Dowd says a total of €1,535,075 in funding has been paid to help meet the back to school costs of 4,719 families with back-to-school costs this year.
The rates of payment are €125 for children between the ages of four and 11 and €250 for children from 12 years of age. These are €25 and €50 increases on previous years’ payments. The total budget provision for the scheme in 2017 is €47.4 million, up €10 million from the original allocation. Almost €43 of that has been paid across Ireland for the new academic year.
€1.5 of that has been spent in Louth and O’Dowd is happy to see the funding is making a difference. “I am delighted to announce that nearly 5,000 local families have benefitted from this funding,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“Parents face significant costs at the start of every school year. The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is one of the single most effective ways for the Government to help families with school costs.
“This year some 194,000 children around the country will benefit from an increase to the payment of up to €50. Fine Gael is committed to ensuring that the Government offers a helping hand when it’s needed, to ensure everyone gets a fair chance and reaches their full potential.
“By helping parents with back to school costs, providing 2,800 extra teachers and 1,000 extra SNAs in our schools around the country, we will create a Republic of Opportunity and a brighter future for the children of Ireland.”
The Department of Social Protection pays BSCFA automatically to many customers, meaning that they do not have to apply for the payment. In order to qualify, a parent must be getting certain social welfare payments or taking part in training, employment or adult education schemes. All applicants are means-tested before a decision is made on their application.
This week saw all local schools return for the new academic year, with students starting new and returning to Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire, Monastery Boys NS, Ardee Educate Together, Ballapousta NS and Ardee Community School.