Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that a free school book scheme for all primary schools will become “a reality” as parents struggle with the cost of living crisis.
The scheme is set to be put into action following a proposal by Barnardos for the scheme. The scheme was piloted by Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh when he was Minister for Education.
In response to a report from the children’s charity which highlighted how parents were struggling due to inflation, Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said that while a “lot” has been done to help families, the government “will go further.”
“We’ve already announced certain measures that have yet to take effect. So we’ll have the additional child benefit payment of 100 euro per child which will be paid in June, and the additional increase in the back-to-school clothing footwear allowance will be paid as well,” he said.
“We will have the free school books, which will be very welcome for thousands of families all over Ireland, we’ve reduced the school transport charges and of course, we have now extended the hot meal programme to all Deis primary schools so that tens of thousands of children will get a hot meal in school, which I think is one of the most important things that any government can help families and help schools with.”
The minister also added that the findings from Barnardos “underlined” his point that tackling child poverty is a priority for the government.
He continued: “The starting point is to decide on how much money we have, how much money is appropriate to spend, and then decide on the different priorities, which will involve reducing income tax, will involve increasing welfare, but tackling child poverty is a top priority for this government, and I think you will find that that will continue to be reflected in decisions that we’ve made.”