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Know your rights – July 2017

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Know your rights – July 2017

Know your rights – July 2017

Know Your Rights

A: Help with school costs

July 2017

Question

I am the parent of a four-year-old daughter who will start Primary School in September. My only income is from my One-Parent Family Payment and €90 I get each week from a part-time job. I don’t get maintenance and I’m worried about the extra costs involved in sending my daughter to school. Is there State help available?

Answer

As you are getting a social welfare payment, you may be entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) to help meet the cost of your daughter’s school uniform and footwear, as long as your weekly income is below a certain level.

You are currently receiving a One-Parent Family Payment of €222.80 (including a child payment) and earning €90, so your weekly income is €312.80, which is below the income limit of €418.10 for a lone parent with one child and will entitle you to BSCFA. The BSCFA payment this year is €125 for a qualified child aged 4–11 years.

The Department of Social Protection pays BSCFA automatically in many cases. If you haven’t already received a letter from them, you will need to apply by 30 September 2017. Application forms are available on the Department’s website, welfare.ie, or from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. A form can also be requested by SMS (text message) by texting ‘Form BTSCFA’ followed by your name and address to 51909 or by emailing the Department at [email protected]

The Department of Education and Skills also runs a School Books Grant Scheme which is available to State-funded schools to help with the cost of school books. Some schools will help with the cost of buying textbooks or run a Textbook Rental Scheme. You should contact your daughter’s school principal to find out if this option is available at her new school.

You can get detailed information on the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance on citizensinformation.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.


 

Know Your Rights

B: Help with paying the rent

July 2017

Question

We are on the local authority’s housing list, but for now we need to find private rented accommodation and get help with the rent. Should we apply for Rent Supplement or the new Housing Assistance Payment?

Answer

People on the local authority’s housing list should no longer apply for Rent Supplement. You can apply for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) instead.

 

HAP is a form of social housing support for people with a long-term housing need. Since 1 March 2017, it has been available nationwide.

 

The HAP scheme aims to allow all social housing supports to be accessed through one body – the local authority – and to enable people to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support.

 

Under HAP, you find your own private rented accommodation. The rental agreement will be between yourself and the landlord. This means that you will have certain rights and obligations, as will your landlord.

 

The rent must be within the HAP rent limits, which are based on your household size and the rental market in your area. Flexibility is provided for people who cannot find suitable accommodation within these rent limits. The Homeless HAP Pilot in Dublin offers further flexibility for homeless people.

 

You won’t pay the rent to the landlord yourself. You will pay a rent contribution to the local authority through the HAP Shared Services Centre, which manages HAP payments on behalf of all local authorities and will pay the rent directly to your landlord. The rent contribution you pay will be based on your income and your ability to pay – like with a local authority differential rent.

 

If you are getting a social welfare payment at a post office, you must pay your rent contribution through the Household Budget Scheme.

 

If you take up a job or increase your working hours, you will still be eligible for HAP, provided that you meet the other conditions of the scheme.

 

Further information is available on hap.ie and from the Citizens Information Service below.

 

Know Your Rights

C: Passport renewal

July 2017

Question

I have booked a family holiday and checked my passport to make sure it’s still valid. It is, but it’s due to expire a couple of weeks before I travel. How can I make sure that I can get a new one in time?

Answer

You don’t have to wait until the expiry of your passport to renew it. If you apply for a new passport before your current one has expired, the period that your new passport is valid for begins from when you apply, rather than from when your previous passport expires.

The website of the Passport Service, passport.ie, lists the current average processing times for different types of passport applications. The quickest way to renew your passport is by using the online application service, which was introduced earlier this year. You can use the online service if your passport expires any time in the next 12 months.

You must submit a digital photo with your application. You can get a friend to take your photo with a digital camera or smartphone or you can go to a photo provider, for example a pharmacy or a photographer, who will give you a copy of your digital photo to upload. Alternatively, you can go to one of the photo booth services listed on passport.ie, which will take your photo and provide you with a code. If you enter this code when you apply, you don’t need to upload the photo yourself.

Online renewal isn’t available for children’s passports, so if you wanted to renew your family’s passports together, you would have to use Passport Express, the postal application service. Alternatively, you could renew your own passport online and use Passport Express for renewing any passports for children.

When you get your new passport you can set a renewal reminder. The passport.ie website offers a passport reminder service, which will send you an email three months before the passport expires.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Service below.

 

 

 

Know Your Rights

D: Springboard

July 2017

Question

I’ve been at home caring for my children for a number of years. I want to return to work. Can I get help to develop my skills so that I am more employable?

Answer

Springboard provides places on courses from certificate, to degree, to post-graduate level – Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications. There are many different courses available that lead to qualifications in areas where there are employment opportunities. Most of the courses last for one year or less.

If you are a homemaker with a previous history of employment you don’t have to be getting a social welfare payment to qualify for Springboard.

To qualify, you must have been a homemaker for a minimum of 12 months prior to your Springboard application and be ordinarily resident in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for at least three of the five years before your entry to Springboard.

You must also provide supporting documentation to show you meet these requirements. You can do this by signing a declaration before a Commissioner for Oaths, attesting to your status. Further information about this is available on springboardcourses.ie.

Most of the courses start in September. Details on available courses and eligibility are on springboardcourses.ie.

You do not have to pay course fees or charges while you are unemployed.

To apply for a Springboard course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website.

If Springboard doesn’t meet your needs, you can find information about other ways to go back to education on citizensinformation.ie.

Further information is also available from the Citizens Information Service below.

 

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.


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