Wexford People

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Council has no plans to follow Clare's lead

WEXFORD County Council did not even consider asking student grant applicants whether their parents had paid the Household Charge, a senior official said.

'We didn't countenance doing it and don't intend to change our practice,' said County Secretary Niall McDonald.

The Council is in charge of processing renewal grants for Wexford students and recently sent out forms.

But unlike Clare County Council which asked students to furnish proof that their parents had paid the Household Charge, Wexford did not raise the issue at all, even though a large percentage of people in the county have still not paid the tax.

The Clare approach which other councils said they would follow, caused a furore last week after it came to light.

Clare County Council sent out a letter telling applicants: 'In order to progress the payment of the first instalment of your grant, please arrange to submit, by return post, a copy of the receipt issued in respect of the payment of the Household Charge.'

The Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said it was a 'reasonable' question for grant applicants to be asked.

But student groups reacted angrily to the move and launched protests against it.

Other councils including Tipperary, Cavan, South Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford and Roscommon said they were considering the same action as Clare.

But the County Secretary confirmed that Wexford would not be joining them.

'We're not asking about the Household Charge. We didn't consider doing it at any stage,' he said.

The handling of student grant applications by County Councils and County VEC's is currently being phased out.

A new centralised student grant application system - Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) - has been introduced.

From this year, all new student finance applications arebeing processed through this system which is run by City of Dublin VEC.

Wexford County Council is now only handling applications from existing students who are already in receipt of grants for continuing college courses.