Last year, one in seven parents admitted to struggling with the cost of school uniform; this year, one in six parents are facing the same struggle – this rise in statistics clearly highlights that the issue is not going away and is only worsening. In fact, these parents are often having to forfeit food and heating in order to meet the cost of school uniforms according to recent research.
Children’s Society recently probed further into the concern regarding the costs of school uniforms and found that on average, parents are having to find a spare £340 per year in order to provide their children with a full school uniform.
In 2015, the government pledged to reduce the prices of school uniforms – but since then, the costs have risen by £24! it’s little wonder that the number of struggling families has risen too.
For some parents, their child may attend a school that only requires a plain uniform, and these can be bought relatively cheap at most big supermarket chains. However, more than 25% of UK schools require three or more parts of the uniform to feature the school logo or badge, and the number of schools that require a minimum of one personalised item has actually doubled since 2015 – with these requirements, parents only have the option of buying from a specialised retailer and thus are required to spend more.
Through certain councils throughout the country, parents may be able to get a grant that contributes towards school uniform costs (some councils actually provide grants of up to £150).
Due to the Education Act of 1996, local councils are able to issue grants for low-income families and struggling parents.
The criteria to meet in order to be provided with the grant will vary depending on which local authority you’re lined in to (certain factors such as the age of your child or the type of school they are attending may affect the decision).
In general, it is safe to say that grants are made available for parents who are on low income and are in receipt of benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance or pension tax credits – children who qualify for free school meals will more than likely also qualify for a subsidised uniform.
Unfortunately, there is also an element of luck involved with regards to eligibility for the grant. Each local authority has its own approach – for example, £150 is offered to struggling parents who fall under Islington council, but nearby, Southwark council only grants amounts of up to £45. There are also plenty of councils that have scrapped the scheme altogether due to their own financial hiccups and budget cuts.
You can check your eligibility for any subsidies or grants by searching on your local council’s website and reading under the ‘Education’ tab – if your council are unable to provide any further support, then there’s the option of asking the school for help and receiving some charity.
If the council can’t help, you can seek help from a charity by asking the school for help, says Citizens Advice.