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Welfare recipients encouraged to avail of Back to Education scheme

Almost €200 million has been made available for the scheme, but the inability of applicants to apply for the student maintenance grant on top of the allowance is being criticised.
Aug 10th 2011, 4:58 PM 995 16

THE MINISTER FOR Social Protection has announced that almost €200 million is being made available for the Back to Education Allowance scheme

The scheme allows certain social welfare recipients to return to education, upskill and “improve their prospects of returning to the active work force”.

A weekly allowance is paid out to recipients which is equivalent to what they were receiving in social welfare payments. They can pursue either a second or third level qualification and are also entitled to a further annual ‘cost of education’ allowance of €500.

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed has said that it fully supports any scheme which allows individuals a chance to get back into education, to upskill or retrain and to increase the prospect of employment.

However, a spokesperson for the INOU had told TheJournal.ie that a recent change which means that people receiving the Back to Education Allowance can no longer apply for the student maintenance grant is a cause for concern.

The spokesperson said that a lot of people did need the extra financial support provided by the maintenance grant, and has questioned whether or not this has prevented people from returning to education.

Back to Education Allowance recipients are still entitled to apply for the grant in respect of registration fees and tuition fees.

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Emer McLysaght

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