Following a meeting with the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, recently, the Chairman of the ICMSA’s Taxation Committee, Lorcan McCabe, has confirmed that the Minister’s position is that any changes to the means test for Higher Education Grants will not be biased towards any sector and will be both fair and equitable.
The ICMSA Taxation Committee Chairman stated that there has been very considerable concern among ICMSA members that farm assets would be taken into account in assessing farmers’ children’s eligibility for grants under a proposed new means test that would include capital assets. Mr. McCabe clearly outlined the ICMSA position that farm assets are a productive business asset and should be considered “tools of the trade” as opposed to being classified as a kind of fixed and cash-realisable asset. Mr McCabe stressed that no capital value can be attributed to them other than income derived from their use.
Mr. McCabe reported that the Capital Asset Implementation Group is due to report to the Minister by the end of June at which time the Minister will then take recommendations to the Government. The Minister, for his part, that there will also be an individual appeals mechanism for all applicants.
Mr. McCabe concluded by stating that any inclusion of farm assets would result in a blatant and specific bias against farm families and that his Association insisted that any new assessment system must be based on fairness, equity and transparency.