Local Minister Alan Kelly is concerned with the irregularities in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme that were recently revealed by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. Minister Burton’s department supplied information which stated that out of 162,500 payments made from the Scheme in 2010, almost 40,000 children of pre-school age availed of this payment at a cost of €7.96 million.
Minister Kelly stated: “I was concerned at the discovery that 39,800 children aged 2-3 years benefited from the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme last year when they were not of school going age. This seems to me to be completely unnecessary as the vast majority of children in this state start primary education at age 4 or 5.
“I understand that many parents enrol their children for the Early Childcare and Education Scheme (ECCE) but I don’t believe that uniforms are the norm in any of the institutions that participate in the ECCE scheme.”
“The Clothing and Footwear Allowance is vital for hard pressed families up and down the country. School uniforms and shoes can be very expensive and I believe passionately in the scheme. However, I do not believe that unnecessary payments should be made at a time when we could be channelling these funds to families who need it most.”
“Moreover, I believe that at a time when our public finances are under such enormous pressure, anomalies in every government department have to be dealt with.”