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School admissions ‘priority need’ problem must be addressed: Durkan

SDLP social justice spokesperson Mark H Durkan has raised concerns around an oversight in the Education Authority’s “socially disadvantaged” criteria

 School admissions ‘priority need’ problem must be addressed: Durkan

SDLP social justice spokesperson Mark H Durkan has raised concerns around an oversight in the Education Authority’s “socially disadvantaged” criteria. It has arisen as a result of the partial migration of claimants to Universal Credit and could potentially hamper admission applications for parents on legacy benefits.

The Foyle MLA said: “A glaring anomaly has come to my attention in relation to the Education Authority’s criteria of what constitutes a ‘socially disadvantaged’ family.

“As a result, I’m concerned it will adversely impact many families here in their ability to secure a school place for their child. Every year this process throws up problems and many families feel unfairly penalised because of their circumstances, I would argue that a full review of this entire system is needed.

“However, in this particular instance I have encountered a number of cases within my constituency office where issues have been flagged with the ‘social disadvantage’ criteria. Universal Credit is now the criteria for priority need however as this benefit encompasses six legacy benefits: JSA, ESA, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Income Support, it means that recipients who would normally qualify no longer do.”

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