Back to School Allowance 2018

It’s not that long since school finished for most children – but thousands of families will already have got the  Back to School Allowance for the next school year. TheBack to School payments were due to be made during the week beginning 9th July 2018.

The Department of Social Protection pays the Back to School payment  automatically to many families that qualify. Anyone that qualifies automatically should have had a letter during June stating when and how your Allowance will be paid. If you didn’t get a letter – you will need to apply (details at the end).

Update:  July 17th :   There are currently delays in processing the Back to School   Allowance .  The Dept of Social Protection have said that applications received in the week ending 29th June are currently being processed. Those customers will shortly receive a text notification to confirm receipt of their application and where eligible, they will receive their payment soon afterwards.  They also say that anyone who has submitted a BSCFA Application after 29th June , should receive confirmation of the receipt of this application within the coming two to three weeks and, where eligible, will receive payment “as soon as possible thereafter”.

(* We hope the delay is not as bad as 2011 – when some payments didn’t go out until September.)

In 2017, Back to School payments of €49 million were made to 151,000 families in respect of over 275,000 children.

How Much Is It  ?

The back to school allowances went up in 2017  :

The allowance paid for each eligible child aged 4-11 on or before 30 September 2018 is  €125

The allowance paid for each eligible child aged 12-22 on or before 30 September 2018 is €250.

(Children aged between 18 and 22 years must be in full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college.)

Note:  Prior to 2011 the Back to School Allowance was  €305 for children over 12 and €200 for children under 12. So we are still a long way off those levels. A Back to school allowance of €200 for two and three year olds was abolished  in 2012.

Who Qualifies ?

To qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance  you need to fulfil one of the criteria below:

  • Getting a social welfare payment (including Working Family Payment (was previously called FIS) and Back to Work Family Dividend) or a Health Service Executive payment, or
  •  Taking part in an approved employment scheme (back to work scheme) or
  •  Taking part in a recognised education or training course, or
    Involved in an Area Partnership Scheme, or
  • Attending a FET (formerly Fás) or, Fáilte Ireland training course.

There is also a means test  Full rules here

Application Forms for the scheme were available from the 22 June 2018. The closing date for applications is 30 September 2018.

If you need an application form, you can  text “FORM BTSCFA” followed by your name and address to 51909  or you can collect one at any Intreo or Social Welfare office.
Any person whose circumstances have changed should contact the Department of Social Protection at 1890 66 22 44 or   0 71 91 93302 or email


Fixed Price Gas and Electricity

cheapest gas ireland

Fixed rates on mortgages and savings have been around for years – but the availability of fixed rates on energy in Ireland is not that common. One company that does offer fixed rates is Just Energy.

Almost all the energy companies in Ireland have announced upcoming price increases on gas and electricity in the past few weeks.

SSE Airtricity started the ball rolling  with their increases kicking in from July 14th –  (Elec 6.4% ; Gas 12.3%)
Most of the others soon followed with price increases at Electric Ireland , Flogas, Energia , Panda Power , Prepay Power and Pinergy ranging from  5% to 12.3% , all taking  effect from August 1st 2018.

Soon after – Bord Gáis Energy said it will increase prices on August 5th – with electricity going up by 5.8% and gas up 4.7%

(These increases are to the standard rates – but there will sometimes  be lower prices available for new customers who switch provider.)


Fixed rates on mortgages and savings have been around for years – but the availability of fixed rates on energy in Ireland is not that common. One company that does offer fixed rates is Just Energy.

The current dual fuel fixed rate option that is available from Just Energy  only through the Switcher website is looking more attractive after all those price increases were anounced.
The fixed rates on offer through Switcher would work out at €1476 for average gas and electricity usage over one year.  (The unit rates are fixed for 12 months.)

The current best dual fuel offer on the market from Energia (€1405 a year) will increase to €1540 from Aug 1st (including their cashback offer) – so the Just Energy price will beat that by €64. (Average usage).
The current Bord Gais Energy dual fuel offer with €175 cashback currently works out at €1476 – but will increase to €1574  from August 5th.

You can see more about the Just Energy fixed rates deal and start the switching process over on
We think this offer will be ending soon – so be quick.

This latest round of price increases might not be the only ones over the next 12 months.

See the latest gas and electricity price comparison using the increased charges.


Euro Sterling Exchange Rate News

Euro Sterling Exchange Rate  : July 16th 2018 9am

1 GBP = 1.133 EUR

1 EUR =  0.8829 GBP

See the Latest  Exchange Rates Here

Positive economic data in the UK helped to strengthen the Pound last week –  The pound ended lats week just 0.1% higher versus the euro at €1.1326. The is the second straight week that the pound has gained versus the euro.
The best Pound to Euro exchange rate of the past 365 days was €1.158  on 17th April 2018.
Sterling did not perform too well overall in 2017 – at its lowest point the Pound went to just €1.08 – down from €1.31 in the month before the Brexit referendum in 2016.

The Pound remains volatile because of  continuing political concerns over Brexit.   The uncertainty over Brexit will continue to  affect Sterling and we expect more volatility for the pound throughout the next stages of Britain’s negotiations with the EU.
With so much  uncertainty in the currency markets at the moment –  it could get quite stressful for people or businesses planning large Euro / Sterling exchanges in the next few months.   We are in a period of rate volatility which, depending on your timescales and budget, could cause problems if you are not properly prepared.

Using a Currency Exchange specialist  can remove some of the uncertainty by allowing you to fix an exchange rate as much as 12 months in advance of your transfer.  For good deals on currency exchange for large amounts –  for personal money or for businesses – see our page on how to get the Best Exchange Rates



money transfers

You might also be interested in this information about Transferring  Money from Ireland to a UK Bank

If you are just looking to buy some Pounds , Dollars  or other foreign cash for a holiday  – take a look at our page about the best place to buy travel currency in Ireland



Electricity and Gas Price Comparison

cheapest gas irelandWhat are the Cheapest Options For Switching Both Gas and Electricity Providers in Ireland ?

Updated July 10th 2018 (Includes latest price increases from Aug )

Hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland have never switched energy providers. Recent figures show that around   half of all electricity and gas customers  have never switched supplier.
Of those that have switched to get a cheaper deal  – 51% have just gone back on the default standard rates after the discounted rate ended.

Our latest Electricity and Gas Price comparison shows that, for averag eusage  households ,  switching energy supplier could cut energy bills by as much as €475 in just one year.

Question : How many hours would you have to work to earn  €475 in take home pay ? (Answer: About 40 hours ( a full weeks wages) for someone on €28k a year)

Note: The price comparisons below are based on what might be typical usage in a medium sized house, using gas for both heating and hot water. ( 11000 Kwh of  Gas and 4200 kwH of Electricity a year .)

These figures take into account the upcoming August price increases announced by all the energy companies.
Continue reading…