The government has announced a suite of measures designed to help families with school-going children with back to school costs.
Department of Social Protection
The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, administered by the Department of Social Protection is being increased by €100 for each eligible child under the scheme. Consequently, the amount being paid for each qualified child aged 4–11 years will be €260 and the rate payable for each eligible child aged 12 and over will be €385. It is estimated that some 151,000 families will benefit from this measure in respect of over 262,000 children. This is a one off measure for 2022 to assist families with back to school costs in the current year.
A further measure relates to the Department of Social Protection’s School Meals Programme. Currently, some 230,000 school-going children benefit from this programme. From today, an additional 310 schools, recently designated as DEIS schools in March are being invited to participate in this programme.
An additional €50 million in total will be made available to provide for these measures.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said, “while many children throughout the country are enjoying the first few weeks of their summer holidays, I am very aware that parents’ thoughts are turning to the costs associated with their return to school in September. In recognition of the rising cost of living. I am pleased to announce that an additional €100 will be paid on the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. Almost 120,000 families will receive this payment automatically – in respect of each qualifying child with the remaining 30,000 receiving their payment over the coming weeks. This scheme is extremely important in supporting families in dealing with what is a very expensive time of year.”
“This announcement brings the payment this year to €260 for children aged 4 to 11 and to €385 for children aged 12 to 22. Overall, I expect that this will benefit some 150,000 families this year, in respect of over 262,000 children. In addition, I have always advocated the benefits of providing children with nutritious school meals. So, I am also announcing that the 310 newly designated DEIS schools can avail of the school meals programme this year, benefitting almost 60,000 additional children. This includes over 270 additional primary schools who may provide hot school meals to their pupils in the next school year.”
Department of Education
The Minister for Education has announced that students availing of the school transport scheme will not be charged fees for the academic year 2022/23. This is a temporary measure for the current year only.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said, “I am delighted to announce that to help struggling families with back-to-school costs anyone who has applied for and receives a school transport ticket for the academic year 2022/23 will not be charged a fee for their school bus ticket this year. This will provide families with savings of up to €500 on the cost of tickets. I am very pleased that we can now make this significant difference to families and can provide this information at this stage to help them with planning for back to school.”
Further details on how the scheme will operate will be announced shortly and communicated directly to families. Families have already applied for their tickets for the school year and these will be processed in the usual way, but without a fee being charged. Families will need to go onto the payment portal to verify they still wish to be considered for a ticket and further information will issue on this process in the coming days. The portal will be closed for a short period to facilitate this. Families will be notified when the portal reopens. Normal eligibility criteria will apply and tickets will be allocated accordingly. Where fees have already been paid, these will be refunded in the coming period.
Speaking about the funding, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said, “we recognise this is an expensive time of year for families, particularly those with a number of children in school. The announcement of a targeted suite of measures to help families with back to education costs this September across transport, clothing, footwear and meals, builds on the additional cost of living supports we have introduced since Budget 2022 and I believe it will be welcomed by many parents.”
“As set out yesterday as part of the publication of the Summer Economic Statement, further measures which will take effect this year to assist with the rising cost of living will be announced as part of the Budget in September. However, it is appropriate that we take action now to help with back to school costs given that these expenses are being incurred at this time of year and today’s initiative will be of immediate benefit to parents who are grappling with these costs.”