Hogan defends Clare Co Council in household-charge 'proof' row
on 18/09/2012 15:39:18
Minister Hogan said the Council was following his instructions to ensure there was a higher level of compliance in relation to the payment of the €100 levy.
The Council, which has been widely criticised for the letters, said grants had not been withheld, but that applicants who had paid the charge would be given priority.
In the Dáil, Minister Phil Hogan defended the approach being taken by the local authority.
"They are doing what (I have) instructed all local authorities to do - to ensure that we get a higher level of compliance with the household charge," he said.
"Otherwise they will be faced with the consequences of not having the same amount of money in their budget as they had in the earlier part of the year, and they will have to cut their budget."
Independent TD, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, said students should not be penalised for their families' non-payment of the household charge.
He said: "Very, very few people who are applying to go to college will actually own a house," he said. "They will be sons and daughters of house owners, so they should not be penalised…It is unfair.
"The best way to deal with this is to have a properly accountable local authority system."
In a statement, Clare County Council said processing Higher Education Grants is done at a cost, and that 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."