€152.9 million – threefold increase in back to school allowance this year

The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has announced that she is making €152.9 million available for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance scheme for 2020.

This compares with the estimated expenditure on the scheme last year of €53.7m.

Minister Humphreys explained that the almost threefold increase in the funding this year is to ensure that the scheme is available to families who continue to be unemployed having lost their employment income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible families towards the cost of school clothing and footwear.

The allowance paid for each eligible child aged 4 - 11 years on or before 30 September, 2020, is €150 while an allowance of €275 is paid for each eligible child aged 12 - 22 years on or before 30 September. Students aged between 18 and 22 years must be returning to full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college in the autumn of 2020.

A large number of payments are being paid automatically with no application form required. It is being paid to some 115,000 families in respect of approximately 210,000 children.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has processed these payments, which are currently being issued to customers at a cost of €43 million.

Said Minister Humphreys: “Returning to school can be a very pressurised time financially for many parents and this year brings the added anxiety created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The allocation this year is €152.9 million to take into account the increased number of families who continue to depend on the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.”

Welcoming the allocation, Deputy Alan Dillon said: “This can be an extremely stressful time for families, particularly given what people have been through as a result of the pandemic. I encourage everyone who thinks they may qualify to check the department’s website.”

Families who received a payment last year and who have not already received a notification from the Department of an automated payment are advised to make an application now via MyWelfare.ie. This is the quickest and easiest way to apply.

Parents and guardians wishing to apply for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance can apply online via https://services.mywelfare.ie/. To apply online, customers must have a Public Services Card and a verified MyGovID account.

Customers who do not have a verified MyGovID account, should contact the Department’s Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance section and our officials there can verify their account. Customers who do not have a Public Services Card or who cannot apply online have the option to submit a paper application form. Application forms are only available by contacting the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance section.

The closing date for receipt of applications for this year’s Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is 30 September, 2020.

There are dedicated phone lines provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for people with enquiries relating to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance to call. The numbers are: 071 9193318 and 0818 11 11 13 and are open during usual business hours Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm. People also have the choice of emailing the department at bscfa@welfare.ie if they have an enquiry regarding their application or entitlement.

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