Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, has reminded families that applications for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance close next week.

Deputy O’Dea commented: “The closing date for applications for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is next Monday September 30th.

“The allowance helps families with the cost of school uniforms and footwear for children and young people aged between 4 and 22.

“The eligibility criteria has also changed this year. If you received the allowance in 2012 and your circumstances haven’t changed then you will be automatically entitled to the allowance this year. New applications have to be submitted by next Monday and I would urge families to ensure that their applications are in as early as possible.

“The allowance can be worth up to €200 and it is a valuable payment for 110,000 families throughout the country. The Government had to automatically process the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance because of the massive delays for families in receiving social welfare payments and appealing decisions.

“One of the many unfair and anti-family measures introduced in last year’s deeply unfair budget was a €50 cut to the allowance. This year many low-income families will be hit by the €50 cut per child, while the latest inflation figures show a 5% increase in education costs over the past year.

“As hundreds of more struggling families fall beneath the poverty line due to the Government’s unfair policies, it is vital that families entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance apply before next week.”