Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has announced that she is making €152.9m 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 Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is a nationwide scheme that provides a once-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 2020.
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.
Minister Humphreys said “I am extending the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance to include parents and guardians who are receiving the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“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 for the scheme 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.”
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 www.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 www.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 30th 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 firstname.lastname@example.org if they have an enquiry regarding their application or entitlement.
Background to scheme
To qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, a person must be in receipt of certain social welfare payments (including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment) or taking part in training, employment or adult education schemes and the total household income must within the thresholds set out in the table below. All dependent children are taken into account for the income limits (including children who do not qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, because they are under the age of 4).
Any income a family gets from Child Benefit, Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement, Working Family Payment, Guardian’s Payments, Blind Welfare Allowance, Rehabilitation Training Allowance, rehabilitative employment (up to €120 per week), Domiciliary Care Allowance, Mobility Allowance is not counted as means.
As at 4 August 2020, Back to School Clothing and Footwear payments amounting to €44.9m have been paid out to 119,450 families in respect of 220,330 qualified children.
Full information on the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is available at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/41eb8b-back-to-school-clothing-and-footwear-allowance/