Call for grant system 'equality'

 

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has said there has to be equality in the provision of third-level grants.

He told the Dáil today that the Government hoped to introduce a capital assets test and means-tested system for education, health services and social protection to minimise bureaucracy.

“Work is proceeding along those lines,’’ he said. “No document has been produced yet for me, but we will be looking at it when it is produced.’’

Mr Quinn said that as far back as the 1990s, a commission report had revealed discrimination against PAYE workers and others relative to the self-employed, including the farming community.

The children of the self-employed were the largest beneficiaries of grants, he added.

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said eligibility for third-level grants should be based on income alone and not include the value of capital asssets.

He said the Government was going to make it more difficult for students from the self-employed sector and rural families to get third-level grants.

Mr Dooley said the average income for many farmers was less than €20,000 per annum.

“I believe this decision, if implemented by Fine Gael and Labour, will put third-level education beyond the reach of many people in those particular sectors,’’ he added.