Don't let the cutbacks hit our children

The huge increase in families looking for financial help to send children back to school is yet another stark reminder of the current financial difficulties.

Requests to welfare officers are running at 1,000 a day and already the Government faces 30,000 more applications than they had expected, adding another €12m to the €82m set aside for this aid.

The fact that the applications are all from parents earning less than €563 a week, facing bills in excess of €300 per child, shows just how desperate the situation has become.

The huge costs call into question the whole notion of "free" education but even more worrying is the prospect that this aid could be cut.

Government ministers have been ordered to cut €10.5bn from their departmental budgets.

Wherever they choose to make savings, ministers should not, under any circumstances, hit these struggling parents and their children's futures.