“Simply sending your children to school should not mean having to rob Peter to pay Paul by using income earmarked for household bills, relying on credit cards and, at worst, turning to money lenders.”

Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children, Cllr Jennifer Whitmore, has said concerted efforts must be made to bring down back-to-school costs so that parents don’t have to resort to money lenders or use funds earmarked for household bills.

Cllr Whitmore was commenting on the annual survey commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions which shows that two out of three parents found back-to-school costs a financial burden.

Cllr Whitmore said:

“It’s worrying that more than a third of parents in today’s survey said they are taking out loans to meet the costs of children going back to school. This shows the extent of the pressure on parents to find funds for books, lunches, uniforms, school trips, after school activities and grinds.

“Simply sending your children to school should not mean having to rob Peter to pay Paul by using income earmarked for household bills, relying on credit cards and, at worst, turning to money lenders.

“The pressure could be relieved if we invested in school book rental schemes, transport and the running of schools. We need to also restore school capitation rates back to 2010 levels so that schools no longer feel the need to ask parents for so-called ‘voluntary contributions’.

“Barnardos have calculated that it would cost an extra €103m a full year to deliver free primary education – that’s around €185 per pupil per year – and an extra €126m in secondary education.

“The Social Democrats believe that this kind of investment would be money well spent in the future of our children and would do a lot to lift the financial burden on parents.

“Our Constitution says that the State will provide free primary education – yet the costs many parents face today shows that we are failing children and families when it comes to this most basic and fundamental provision.”

ENDS

30 July 2018