Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has urged the Government to address the huge cost of sending a child back to school. His remarks come as the children’s charity, Barnardos’, released its annual School Cost Survey that suggests that the huge burden on families remains the same.

The Sinn Féin TD is calling for an increase the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance in Budget 2018 by €50 for both Primary and Secondary school children in response to the real and actual costs facing parents.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The Barnardos’ School Cost Survey 2017 is a welcome addition to the debate on back to school costs that are impacting on parents. The survey suggests that despite this issue being to the fore in recent years the actual costs of sending a child to school remain the same and the costs impact most negatively on the less well off.

“Parents spend on average €95 on school specific uniforms at primary level and between €150 and €200 for them at secondary level.

“Parents are also spending on average between €50 and €100 on books while one-fifth (20%) of parents of secondary school pupils pay in excess of €300. The survey shows that book rental schemes are varied in what they actually cover. Thankfully voluntary contributions are said to have come down slightly.

“The impact of school costs means 45% of parents had to forgo other bills or cut back on daily expenses.

“Clearly the Government are continuing to fail parents and children when it comes to school costs. The fact that parents are falling into greater debt while struggling to cover these costs should be setting off alarm bells in Government.

“Another recent survey by the League of Credit Unions also found that one in four parents will have to deny their children certain school items this year as they head back to school as they don’t have the money to pay for all the costs to go back to school.

“According to this survey 72% of parents with school-going children feel the back-to-school costs will be a financial burden.”

Crowe continued:

“Parents are facing into some of the most expensive months of the year with the back to school cost challenge coming at them at break neck speed. The scrambling and trying to cut corners has already begun in the hope of having additional money to send children back to school this September without having to cut other basics.

“Back to School costs are financially crippling families the length and breadth of the State and are particularly difficult for lone parents, low income households, and parents with more than one child of school going age.

“Sinn Féin supports the reduction of back to school costs by increasing the School Books Grant by 30%. In Government, we would introduce legislation for schools to have generic school uniform policies to reduce back-to-school costs for families.

“Back to School costs has become an annual conversation and this will continue until the Government adopts a more positive and proactive steps to support struggling families.

“Budget 2018 affords the opportunity to do this and I am calling on Minister Richard Bruton to increase the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance by €50 for both Primary and Secondary School children in that budget.”