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SVP urges schools to cut Communion bills

THE charity is urging schools and churches to help cut the cost of First Communions and Confirmations.

LOCAL branches of the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) have already discussed the issue with schools in their areas, suggesting some common type of uniform or clothing.

"In Switzerland, for example, the children wear a type of white garment," said a spokesperson for the SVP.

"We would urge that anything that would help families celebrate in a way that won't put them under undue hardship should be looked at.

"It needs schools, the Church and parents to come together at local level. We would encourage people in local communities to come together and reach agreement, to see what options there are to properly celebrate the ceremony, but to relieve the pressure on families who are already in hardship," he said.

Struggling parents hit by radical cuts to Communion and Confirmation payments are increasingly turning to charities for help.

The payment was cut from an average of €242 to a maximum of €110, and only for "hardship" cases last year by the Government.

The impact of a decision by the Government to slash exceptional needs payments for the two events is having a major impact on families who are already hard-pressed, according to Fianna Fail's spokesperson on Social Protection, Deputy Willie O'Dea.

Deputy O'Dea said that the cuts for the Communions and Confirmations are on top of all the other cuts that have been absorbed by hard-pressed parents, including the back-to-school allowance. He called for the payments to be reinstated by the Government.

"Communions and Confirmations are a huge expense for parents," he said.

Deputy O'Dea said that funding for exceptional needs payments was cut by 25pc in the most recent Budget.

This means that the budgets of community welfare officers are being exhausted, and people are having to approach charities, he said.