Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has criticised the Government for failing to deliver on its commitments on increasing school capitation payments.

Deputy Byrne made the comments following the publication of a report by Grant Thornton which shows that parents have to fork out €46m each year to keep the doors open in primary schools.

The report found that the capitation grant paid the Government to schools does not come close to covering running costs such as lighting, heating and cleaning.

Deputy Byrne said, “This report paints a bleak picture and demonstrates how parents are forced to cover the day-to-day running costs of schools right across the country. The study has highlighted the stark reality that the capitation payments that the Government make to schools simply do not come close to paying bills. It shows that our long established tradition of free education is being undermined.

“There was a clear commitment made in the Programme for Government to give annual increase in capitation to schools to help meet day-to-day running costs and reduce the over-reliance on payments from parents. However the Government has failed to deliver on this commitment to date. Parents are still expected to fork out vast sums of money each year just to keep the lights on in schools. It’s not acceptable and the current situation is undermining the concept of free education.

“Minister Bruton needs to get real about tackling the shortfall between the capitation payment made to schools and the annual bills that schools have to pay. The capitation payments need to increase and capitation rates need to be set out on a rolling three year basis to give school principals the certainty they need to plan for the future.”