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Government should commit to action plan on Back to School costs – Adams

3 August, 2016 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, responding to the publication of a Barnardos survey on school costs this morning, has said the Department of Education should commit to an action plan for the reduction of back-to-school costs.

Teachta Adams said:

“The findings in Barnardos latest annual back-to-school costs survey make for worrying reading and back up the findings of a report last month by the Irish League of Credit Unions, which found that many parents struggle at this time of year to pay the costs associated with children returning to school in the Autumn.

“I raised this issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil on the 13th July and he flatly rejected my view that back to school costs are placing a significant financial burden on parents and that they are finding themselves in debt covering back to school costs.

“The finding that almost half of all school-going parents have to juggle household bills, or forego paying bills, to pay back to school costs is nothing short of scandalous in a system which supposedly provides free education, and both reports find that some parents are worryingly turning to unscrupulous moneylenders in order to put the money together to provide for their children.

“The Government could and should take some positive steps to alleviate the pressure on parents and the State can afford them; including increasing the annual Back to School Allowance, which has been cut in by half since 2011, by €50 - at a total cost of €15 million.

“The Department of Education should be devising a holistic action plan to reduce back to school costs, covering a range of items - including increasing the Back to School Allowance - as well as working to ensure the elimination of voluntary contributions in schools and reducing the costs of uniforms and school transport, as well as providing for school meals.” 

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