The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) is concerned that thousands of families may not receive their Back to School Clothing & Footwear Allowance before the new school term begins at the end of the month.

Schools are asked by the SVP to make allowances for pupils who might have to return to school without their school uniforms.

According to the SVP there is a risk that many eligible families, who do not receive payment in time, will fall into arrears with other bills or use moneylenders in order to pay for clothing and footwear for school.

The SVP says that it welcomes the automation of existing payment claims. Despite 127,000 automated payments made since July for existing applicants, a further 66,000 applications were made to the Department of Social Protection from the 1st July to 17th August. According to the Department over 45,000 of these still remain to be processed and at 17th August claims were continuing to arrive at over 1,000 per day.

While recognising that the Department has put additional resources in place to deal with the increased number of applications the SVP is concerned for the many families whose applications will not be processed in time for the re-opening of schools. It is asking the Department to do everything possible to clear the backlog of applications and for payments to be channelled through the Community Welfare Officer Service for people who will not receive their payment in time.

SVP National President Mairead Bushnell said; ‘Back to school time is a very stressful period for all parents, but especially those parents who are reliant on State payments to assist with school uniforms and footwear and who also have to deal with the cost of school books. Parents are really panicking over this delay.”