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Incentivising students to work longer hours this summer will help support hospitality sector – Cummins

Income disregard for student grant must be increased to ensure students are not penalised for working more

30th May 2022 - Senator John Cummins

An increase in the earned income disregard for the student grant is urgently needed to support employment in the hospitality sector ahead of the busy summer period, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator John Cummins is working with the Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris, asking him to examine the possibility of extending the earned income disregard for students who undertake employment during the summer period.

This will be crucial to assisting the hotel and hospitality sector in what is a very challenging staffing environment.

Speaking today, Senator Cummins said, “The anecdotal evidence I am receiving from the hospitality sector reveals that students are telling employers they cannot work additional hours during the summer for fear of losing their SUSI grant for the 2023/24 academic year.

“Under the current rules for assessing income from employment, students can earn a maximum of €4,500 ‘holiday earnings’ outside of term time. I would like to see this income disregard for holiday earnings increased significantly; let’s not penalise students for working extra hours this summer

“At a time of acute staffing challenges within the tourism and hospitality sector, I believe we need to encourage students to take on additional work during the busy summer period without the fear of any impact on their grant.

“Many students rely on their SUSI grant to get through third level education, and they have understandable concerns about taking on additional work during holiday periods over and above €4500, if it could affect their eligibility for a grant.

“Flexibility on this would be a win-win for all concerned. It would encourage students to take on additional work which in turn supports the tourism and hospitality sector. And most importantly it would put more money in the pockets of students without them having to worry about how it would affect their eligibility for a grant through SUSI.

“I have spoken to Minister Harris and he has asked his officials to examine this matter, and I am pleased this proposal is being looked at seriously”, Senator Cummins concluded.

From September, all student grants will increase by €200. Eligibility will widen with changes to the income thresholds meaning more people will qualify.

The non-adjacent rate will reduce to 30km meaning some students will see their grant increase by 30%.

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