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Back-to-school costs hitting struggling families hard – Ó Broin

3 August, 2016 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin TD has reacted to the results of a Barnardos survey which shows the expense of sending children back to school – with the average cost of sending a child to first year in secondary school at €775 – challenging the concept of a ‘free education’.

Deputy Ó Broin said:  

“Every summer, families are faced with back-to-school costs which are inordinately high. Education in this state is supposed to be ‘free’, but sending children to school is becoming increasingly expensive, with many families on low and middle incomes struggling to cope – particularly those with a number of children attending school.

“The Barnardos survey, reinforces what we already know – back-to-school costs are too high. One in ten families have to resort to borrowing money to finance their children’s education, with 40% scrimping on other living expenses in order to meet costs.

“The Irish League of Credit Unions have also highlighted this struggle for many families – a survey they recently published shows that 67% of parents surveyed feel that back to school costs have a negative impact on the ability of families to plan or pay bills – with 31% finding themselves in debt to cover these costs.

“The government has done nothing to help the situation. In fact, the Fine Gael/Labour government cut the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance in 2014 by one third for primary pupils from €150 to €100, and for secondary school pupils from €250 per child to €200.

“Sinn Féin has proposed and costed a number of measures including the restoration of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the extension of the School Meals Programme by 40%, increased capitation to primary and secondary schools by 10% over a Dáil term and an increase in the School Books Grant by 30%.

“It is imperative that each child has the support they need to enable their education which should be free, as enshrined in the Constitution.” 

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