Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to do more to tackle the rising back to school costs for families.
The Sinn Féin TD’s comments come after the release of the annual Irish League of Credit Union (ILCU) school survey which revealed that one-third of those surveyed were getting into debt to meet rising back to school costs.
Teachta Seán Crowe said:
“This year the ILCU’s ‘School Costs Survey’ revealed that a whopping one-third of parents surveyed are getting into debt to meet back to school costs. This is a significant and alarming rise in the number of parents facing this challenge.
“Worryingly the report also shows increasing numbers of families are turning to legal and illegal moneylenders in an effort to cope with unmanageable back to school costs.
“Updated and new curriculum books, school uniforms, shoes, writing materials, journals and voluntary contributions all add up.
“The survey suggests that the average back to school cost for a single primary school child is now €999 and €1379 for a child in secondary school.
“Families can often find these costs further compounded by other rises in the costs of living.
“Increasingly for many parents this time of year is one of worry and stress, as they face the prospect of the challenging costs associated with children returning to school in September.
“In addition many families on lower incomes are still waiting on confirmation or receipt of the Back to School Allowance.”
“Back to school costs have unfortunately become an annual conversation in many Irish homes and this is set to continue until the Government implements positive and proactive supports for struggling families. The conversation shouldn’t end in September when the students return to school.
“Budget 2019 affords the opportunity to do this and I am calling on Minister Bruton to increase the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance for both primary and secondary School children in the budget.
“It is unacceptable that families have to go into debt solely to meet the costs of sending their children to school. This can and does involve legal and illegal moneylenders who charge huge exorbitant rates on return.
“The annual ILCU survey reinforces the hidden picture of Ireland in which people are increasingly going into debt, back to school costs are rising and the financial burden from the recession and Government imposed austerity is still impacting on many our citizens.”