‘Shambolic’: Deputy Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein
A LIMERICK TD has highlighted the plight of a local woman who has been refused the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) as her income is €1.70 over the weekly threshold.
Deputy Maurice Quinlivan, who has contacted Minister Leo Vardakar directly, says the predicament being faced by the woman, who lives in Corbally, is shambolic and should not be accepted.
“When I spoke to the department (of Social Protection) I was met with a blank ‘limits are limits’ and they have no discretion. This is not good enough and I have personally written to the minister asking him to intervene in this particular case,” said Deputy Quinlivan.
While the woman’s details have not been put in the public domain, the Sinn Fein TD has confirmed she is a working mother who is paying a mortgage.
“To qualify, a family's total income must be below a certain amount but the strict means-tested rules do not take into account expenses such as rent or mortgage costs. Obviously there has to be some limit but also there needs to be discretion,” said Deputy Quinlivan who remains hopeful he will recieve a positive response.
“Every summer, families are faced with back-to-school costs which are extremely high and destroys the myth of free education. It can be extremely stressful for many families who are struggling already. Education in this state is supposed to be ‘free’, but sending children to school is becoming increasingly expensive, with many families on low and middle incomes struggling to cope – particularly those with a number of children attending school,” he added.
Under the BSCFA scheme, parents are entitled to a payment of €100 per child aged between 4 and 11 or €200 per child aged between 12 and 22.