herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Parents cut back on food to meet increasing back-to-school costs

The notion that there is free primary education in this country is a bit of a bad joke
The notion that there is free primary education in this country is a bit of a bad joke
back to school

A HIGH number of parents claim they have to sacrifice buying food in order to afford rising back-to-school costs.

A new survey has found that parents are spending up to €1,200 on their children's school costs, while they remain in serious debt.

The costs cover books, uniforms, school lunches, extracurricular activities, transport costs, after school care, voluntary contributions, school trips and gym gear.

Parents are spending more than €216 alone on school uniforms and more than €162 on books.

Secondary school costs are more expensive, with parents paying an average of €470 on uniforms and books compared to primary school costs of €272.

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) surveyed 1,000 adults and found that 81pc of them felt the cost of putting their children back to school was too expensive.

Some 160 people said that they could not afford to put food on the table, having to cut back on it in order to meet the costs.

A massive 25pc of people said they were dipping into their savings to pay for school items.

The survey also found that back to school costs negatively affect 29pc of people struggling to pay the bills and meet everyday needs.

Some 32pc said that they were in debt covering the costs, borrowing an average of €360.

The vast majority of parents said they have had to sacrifice their family holiday or children's summer camps this year because of the debt.

Only 15pc of parents eligible for back-to-school allowance said they believed it is sufficient to cover costs.

Evidence

Ed Farrell of the ILCU said that the survey is evidence that the costs have become "very challenging" for parents.

He said that he would urge parents to "shop around for the best value", and to re-use items from the year before where possible.

The infamous school 'voluntary contribution' has declined in popularity, with seven out of ten people saying they would pay them this year.

Meanwhile, 420 people admitted that they feel "pressured" to buy school branded supplies, with the majority of complaints coming from secondary school parents.

Dunnes Stores remains the most popular place for parents to buy their back to school items followed by Marks and Spencer and Tesco. Almost half of those surveyed said they prefer to shop online for school items.

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