Parents urged to apply for school clothing allowance

Payment to ease financial pressure on families has gone up 25% for each eligible child

Regina Doherty: “This payment can make a real difference in helping families.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Regina Doherty: “This payment can make a real difference in helping families.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Parents of children returning to school in August and September have been urged to apply now for a government assistance scheme to help them pay for clothes and shoes.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has launched an information campaign for the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, which will be paid automatically to about 108,000 people later this month.

The overall budget for the scheme in 2017 is €47.4 million – an increase on a significantly reduced budget last year. Some €35.5 million had originally been set aside for the scheme in 2016, as the department expected a reduction in the number of applications due to a drop in the Live Register.

However, despite the expected drop, 3,000 more families received the automatic payment last year than in 2016. The budget was subsequently increased.

A total of €38.8 million was allocated for the scheme in the 2017 budget but the Government has also increased that allocation.

Ms Doherty said the costs associated with children both starting and returning to school could put a lot of financial pressure on families.

The allowance has increased by 25 per cent this year – from €100 to €125 for children aged from four to 11, and from €200 to €250 for children aged 12 years and over.

“This payment can make a real difference in helping families and is available for schoolchildren from the age of four in primary school up to age 22 for students who are in second-level education,” Ms Doherty said.

The allowance will be paid automatically to about 108,000 customers, in respect of 194,000 schoolchildren in the week ending Friday, July 14th.

All customers who will receive the payment automatically should have been contacted by letter by the Department of Social Protection by July 1st.

Customers who do not receive notification of an automated payment or who want to make a first-time application will need to apply to the department.

Application forms are available at all Intreo centres and can be downloaded from the department’s website at welfare.ie/backtoschoolThe closing date for applications is Saturday, September 30th.