Education Minister says including farm assets in education grant means testing 'fairer'Sunday 03 March 2013 22.14
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said there is no disagreement between him and the Agriculture Minister on means testing the assets of farmers and the self-employed when awarding third-level student support grants.
Mr Quinn told RTÉ's The Week in Politics that Simon Coveney agrees that the matter should be discussed by Government and the facts must come out.
Mr Quinn said he has prepared a memorandum for cabinet and it is likely to be debated there in the next number of weeks.
The memorandum will make a distinction between working assets that are essential to the business and will focus instead on things like savings above a certain limit, he said.
He said that he wanted fairness in the student grants system while at the same time ensuring there is a thriving agriculture and small business sector.
The Minister said he believes there has to be a national debate on the system that pays out €336m annually.
Mr Quinn said given that means testing for health and social welfare included assets, student grants should not be any different.
“What we did was we set up a working party which has to introduce an element of fairness across the spectrum of wealth that people have with a view to getting some equity into the grant system.”
“This is not about farmers - it's about fairness,” he said.
Several Fine Gael TDs have said they are opposed to any change to the grant application process that is currently based on annual income.