FAMILIES waiting on their Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) but who want to get ready now for the new school term should consult their credit union and avoid the temptation of money lenders, Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan said.
The comments follow a survey from Barnardos which has found that many parents are taking out loans in order to meet the costs of sending their children to school.
“The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance payment helps parents meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for children going to school. The scheme operates from June to September each year. There is anecdotal evidence of payments being a little later than normal, most likely due to the increased volume of applications again this year.
“But I would strongly encourage applicants not to panic and definitely not to get lured into the temptation of going to money lenders for cash. There are still four weeks to go to the start of term and staffs in this sector are working hard to process the huge volume of claims.
“These are worrying, pressing times for parents up and down the country. Money is tight everywhere. But I can’t stress enough the perils of getting into debt with moneylenders and the critical need to avoid them.
“Credit unions are our community banks and the movement across Carlow-Kilkenny is well used to helping families meet the costs of going back to school at this time of year.
“While many schools have rental schemes which reduce the cost to parents, others do not. It is my hope that more schools will offer rental schemes in the future, conscious of the need for such initiatives to ease financial stress on parents,” Deputy Phelan said.
To get the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, parents or guardians must meet a number of conditions:
· You must be getting certain social welfare payments or payments for training, employment schemes or adult education and getting an increase in that payment for the child
· Your total household income must be below a certain amount
· The child/student must be aged between 2 and 22 on or before 30 September of the year you apply and must be in full-time education at a recognised school or college
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 will be automated. This means that parents may not need to fill out an application form for the payment. If they qualify they should have received a letter from the Department of Social Protection in June telling them how and when the payment will be made.