Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to School early payments questioned by Kelly

Cllr Anthony Kelly has questioned the reasoning behind changes made this year to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and in particular the payment arrangements. The Wexford Sinn Féin councillor has urged parents who have not yet received their payments to check their status as they may need to reapply immediately.

“Worried constituents have been contacting me day and night with their concerns regarding the roll out of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance this year and the fact that it was paid out so early during the summer break,” Cllr Kelly said. “The administrative arrangements for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance in 2011 are different from the arrangements that applied in previous years. This year most of the process has been automated. This means that you may not need to fill out an application form for the payment. If you qualify you should have received a letter from the Department of Social Protection in June telling you how and when the payment will be made. The scheme is open from 1 June to 30 September. If you have automatically qualified, you should have got a letter from the Department of Social Protection telling you how and when your payment will be made. If you have not received a letter by the end of June you need to apply. Unfortunately, due to the early payment date, many families have not yet realised that they need to reapply.”

“Another disadvantage of the early payment is that many struggling families have reluctantly used their payments to get them out of a financial hole and unfortunately will find themselves in a difficult situation come August when preparations are being made for school. I must accuse the department of Social Protection of engaging in reckless behaviour by giving out payments which are meant to pay for school uniforms and footwear three months before the schools reopen. Sinn Féin is asking the Minister to review the dates on which payments of this allowance are made in future. Sinn Féin has also called upon the Minister for Education to tackle the issue of the cost of both school books and uniforms as this will provide real assistance to the parents of all school going children.”

"People can apply for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance before 30 September 2011 by getting an application form from your Social Welfare Local Office, from your local health centre or by texting 'form BTSCFA' followed by your name and address to 51909 and returning it to Department of Social Protection, PO Box 131. Letterkenny, Co.Donegal.”

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