Tuesday 25 October 2016

Homeless single mother refused education allowance after securing place in Trinity

Published 05/08/2016 | 16:58

Erica Fleming and daughter Emily (9) in Trinity College. Photo: Tony Gavin
Erica Fleming and daughter Emily (9) in Trinity College. Photo: Tony Gavin

A homeless single mother, trying to make a better life for herself and her daughter, is being refused the Back to Education Allowance.

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Erica Fleming (30) has been admitted to Dublin’s prestigious Trinity College, through the Trinity Access Programme and is due to begin in September.

Ms Fleming has been homeless for around a year with her daughter Emily (10). They have been living in hotel rooms.

The single mother revealed how she has been denied the grant to return to education – because she has been working part time.

And astonishingly, she was told that in order to qualify, she would have to be unemployed for 234 days.

Read more: Homeless mum's joy as she gets place in Trinity

Last year, Erica lost her One Parent Family payment and transferred to Family Income Supplement.  This followed changes to the allowances by then Minister for Social Welfare Joan Burton.

However, while receiving the One Parent Family payment would have qualified her for Back to Education Allowance, receiving the Family Income Supplement does not.

Ms Fleming that she needed the €217-a-week from the allowance to support herself and her daughter, otherwise she would not be able to attend the college.

“When I saw the letter (rejecting the application) I was sick.

“I was so angry that because they can’t tick a box beside your name, you can’t get the grant,” she added.

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