Cost of School Uniforms survey launched by Citizens Advice Halton
NEWS RELEASE: October 4th, 2022
Citizens Advice Halton has launched a new survey for parents and carers assessing if schools across the Borough are implementing changes to the law requiring genuinely affordable uniforms.
Following a successful campaign led by Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale and The Children’s Society, new guidance has been issued to Schools by the Government which has become law since pupils went back to school last month.
Mr Amesbury drove through a private members bill in Parliament to create a new law requiring schools ensure uniforms remain affordable, with the number of branded items kept to a minimum, as well as requiring if there is a single uniform supplier the contract must be out to tender, to open up competition and drive down costs.
In 2020, The Children’s Society surveyed 1,000 parents about school uniform costs. Parents with children in state-maintained schools said they spent £337 per year on school uniform costs for each secondary school child and £315 per year for each primary school child – three times what they felt is reasonable for school uniforms.
More than one in eight parents reported having to cut back on essentials, such as food and clothing to cover the cost of uniforms.
Hitesh Patel, Chief Officer – Citizens Advice Halton, said:
“It was back in 2013 that we first raised concerns about families getting into debt to cover the cost of school uniforms and so we were really pleased to see Mike’s private member’s Bill becoming law.
However with the families across the Borough facing the cost of living crisis it is important to assess the hidden costs of uniform and travel to School.
We want to understand if local parents can genuinely afford uniforms without cutting back on essentials and if the recommendations are being implemented by Schools, limiting the numbers of more expensive, branded items of uniform required. If the changes are not being addressed, our charity can support parents to raise the matter with Head Teachers and school Governors.
In September, our partnership with Halton Housing and Travis Perkins allowed us to give school uniform grants to more than 100 school children from low income families. Although that scheme has now ended we still offer a range of support to struggling parents, including budgeting and debt advice, benefit checks, job search and employability support.”
Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale, added:
“It’s great to see partnerships developing between Citizens Advice Halton, Halton Housing and Travis Perkins, all of whom are committed to support families with the cost of school uniforms.
We advise parents and carers to check their school has updated its guidance in line with the new law on affordable school uniforms. Schools should be directing people to local supermarkets for low-cost school uniform items, as well as setting up sustainable swap shops.
School ought to be about a child’s right to an education not their financial circumstances. We should never have a situation where a child is excluded because their family couldn’t afford to replace an expensive item they had outgrown.”
The survey is available here: https://forms.gle/LUHUBiQM1rSTTNTf7 and will be open until 31st October with completed entries submitted into a draw to win a £40 Aldi voucher.