School Uniform Aid Drops 70%
Parents are being pushed into further debt as councils stop financial aid for school uniforms.
According to a new report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the majority of families can no longer access the ‘School Uniform Grant’ which was introduced in the 1980s, to help struggling families buy school uniforms for their children. Since 2010 there has been a drop 0f 70% throughout England.
Even though the Department for Education still advertises the availability of the grant, only 27 out of the 149 local councils actually provide the grant, and a third of those only do so in rare cases such as fire, flood or ‘extreme poverty’. Only three councils in the whole of England offer the grant to low-income children in all years and all situations.
Even with the grant available, the average amount offered was just £36 for primary school and £63 for secondary school, this is despite the average cost of uniform in 2018 being a staggering £300 per child! Only one council (based in London) offered the full £150 which the Board of Education advertise as being available.
Labour MP Lisa Forbes, who campaigns on school uniform cost says, “These cuts hit our youngest and most vulnerable,” she said. “Each day, there are children forced to go to school in clothes that are dirty, badly fitting and unsuitable, while some even report missing lessons as a result.
“These latest figures show that families are being squeezed between rising costs and the lack of support to help with them, and both lie directly at this government’s door. I have urged ministers to keep their promise to regulate uniform costs, but for four years they have dragged their feet. This research should be the final wake-up call they need to act.”
All this does is force those that are already struggling financially – those actually eligible for the grant – to borrow and get themselves into (further) debt in order to pay for their children’s school uniforms. It is estimated that 1.7 million children attend school in badly fitting, unclean or incorrect clothing. Last year, a Children’s Society survey found that one in 10 families reported getting into debt to buy school clothes for their children.
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