Minister defends Council asking for household charge receipts with grant applications18/09/2012 - 08:50:39
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said that it is reasonable for County Councils to ask student grant applicants if they have paid the household charge before processing applications.
Clare County Council has written to student grant applicants asking for proof that their family has paid the €100 tax.
The Council says if people pay their household charge early, they will not face any "unnecessary delay" in the payment of third-level grants.
In a statement, the council says processing Higher Education Grants is done at a cost, and the household charge was introduced to cover the cost of providing local services such as assessing and processing grants.
"The assessment and processing of Higher Education Grants is carried out on an agency basis for the Department of Education and Skills, and is done at a cost (IT, Staff, Processes etc.) to Clare County Council<" the statement read.
"The Household Charge was introduced to cover the cost of providing local services such as the assessing and processing grants, for which there is no charge to the customer in terms of a grant application fee.
"It is the policy of the Council to ensure that benefactors of services such as Higher Education Grants pay the Household Charge as required by law under the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 / Local Government (Household charge) Regulations 2012.
"While any delay in relation to the processing of grant payments is regretted, early payment of the Charge will ensure no unnecessary delay in the payment of grants."
The Campaign Against the Household Charge has described the move as a new low for the Government.
Minister Quinn said that pressure should be put on people who choose not to pay the tax when they are able to do so, and he expects more county councils will follow suit.
"Well, the County Councils are charged with the responsibility to collect the charge, and its normal that if you're not compliant to get additional taxpayers' money when you haven't paid a legally-due tax I think is a reasonable question to be asked by Clare County Council," he said.
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