Cost of school uniform squeezes family finances warns Bevan Foundation

Poverty Children and teacher working in a classroom
NewsAugust 31st, 2022

BBC Wales uses Bevan Foundation evidence to highlight the challenges faced by families as schools set to return 

The cost of buying school uniform has long been a challenge for many Welsh families. Branded items, school blazers and a new pair of shoes are often expensive, especially for low-income families. With the cost of living crisis continuing to deepen, however, the challenge of affording school uniform is likely to be even greater as children get ready to return to school next week. 

The Bevan Foundation’s recent A snapshot of poverty in Summer 2022 report sets out clearly the extent of the challenge. A staggering 13% of Welsh households either sometimes or often struggle to afford the cost of essentials. A third of families with one or two children are cutting back on items for children, including school uniforms. With energy costs set to increase further this autumn, the number of families struggling to make ends meet is likely to grow. 

Given this broader context the Bevan Foundation were pleased to see the BBC cover the issue on August 31st, with its focus on some of the Bevan Foundation’s proposed solutions being especially welcome. Appearing on BBC Wales’s news output, S4C’s Newyddion and on BBC Radio Wales, the Bevan Foundation’s, Head of Policy (Poverty), Steffan Evans outlined two measures that could be taken to provide greater assistance to families this autumn. 

The first of these is to expand the eligibility criteria for the Pupil Development Grant (Access) so that more low-income families are eligible for support towards the cost of their school uniform. The Bevan Foundation have long drawn attention to the fact that thousands of families that live in poverty miss out on the support provided through the Pupil Development Grant (Access). The action taken by the Welsh Government to expand eligibility criteria of the scheme to children in all year groups and to increase the value of the support that is on offer is to be welcomed. Even with the expanded criteria, however, thousands of families that are trapped in poverty will miss out on support due to the fact that they earn more than £7,400 per year. Expanding the scheme so that all families that receive Universal Credit are entitled to support would ensure that more families get the help they need. 

The second measure that should be taken is for schools to ease their school uniform requirements. The Bevan Foundation have previously come across examples of schools requiring children to wear £30 blazers, whilst a requirement for branded items reduces the ability of parents to bulk buy items at cheaper stores such as supermarkets. Such requirements both reduces the real terms value of the support that families eligible for the Pupil Development Grant (Access) receive, whilst making life more difficult for families not eligible for support. 

To see the BBC’s coverage in full, the story is now available to read on the BBC’s website in English, and in Welsh

If you think you, or anyone you know may be eligible for support towards the cost of school uniform there’s more information available on the Welsh Government’s website here


Tagged with: Media coverage


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