Sinn Féin have proposed a €140 ‘Back to School Bonus’ to be paid to all families to help tackle crippling back to school costs. The proposal is contained in a new policy document ‘Tackling Back to School Costs’ published by Sinn Féin this week.

The policy document also contains proposals to make uniforms more affordable, to ensure school books are free for all children, to end school reliance on so-called voluntary contributions by increasing core capitation funding to schools, and reforms to ensure the school transport scheme is more flexible and affordable.

Speaking after the launch of the proposals Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, said:

“Every summer parents are put to the pin of their collar trying to organise uniforms, shoes, books, ‘voluntary contributions’, and much more. The vast majority of parents currently get no assistance with back to school costs.

“More than any other time of year, it has become abundantly clear that free Primary and Secondary Education for students in this state is a myth. Parents have to fork out an average of €949 to get their children ready for primary school and a whopping €1,399 to send them to secondary school. As a result of this financial burden, many children miss out on extracurricular activities or school trips. This is a deeply unfair position to put parents in.

“These are just two examples of the overwhelming number of reasons to propose a Back to School Bonus of €140. This could take the form of a double payment of Child Benefit which should be paid to every family for each child at the start of July. This would reverse some of the major cuts inflicted on Child Benefit by successive governments made up of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party, and the Greens.

“Sinn Féin would also tackle the increasing use of voluntary contributions by properly funding schools. It is absurd that schools have to ask for voluntary contributions and fundraise for items as basic and fundamental as heat and light. Our proposals would eliminate these so-called voluntary contributions by restoring Capitation Grants to pre-recession levels.

“We would also legislate to ensure that schools have to work towards an affordable uniform scheme and to increase funding to the School Books Scheme to deliver free school books for all school children.”