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Parents under severe pressure as back-to-school costs increase – Nolan

27 July, 2016

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Deputy Carol Nolan, has today expressed concern at the level of costs associated with sending children to school and outlined the party’s proposals to ease the burden on families. While Deputy Nolan has welcomed the recent Micro Credit Union initiative, she says that parents should not have to resort to borrowing to finance their children’s education.

Teachta Nolan said:

“A recent Irish League of Credit Unions survey showed that Back to School costs can be as much as €967 for a child at primary school and €1474 for a child at secondary school.

“It is truly shocking that this survey states that 31% of parents find themselves in debt to over back to school costs, which have increased year on year since 2012. 67% of parents surveyed feel that back to school costs have a negative impact on the ability of families to plan or pay bills.

“While I welcome the Micro Credit Union initiative, especially in light of 14pc of parents surveyed saying they have used a moneylender to cover back-to-school costs, I feel that parents shouldn’t have to resort to borrowing money at all to enable children their fundamental right to education.

“Access to credit is not a substitute for rising costs – and though the government are making sympathetic noises – the fact is that the previous government that 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.

“A recent UNICEF report shows that 30% of Irish Children suffer from material deprivation, living in households that cannot afford essential items. Back to school costs are crippling families across this state, particularly those on low incomes. Sinn Féin has consistently called for measures that will help ease that burden.

“Sinn Féin has proposed number of measures, including  the restoration of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, the extension of the School Meals Programme by 15%, increased capitation to primary and secondary schools by 10% over a Dáil term and an increase in the School Books Grant by 30%.

“These measures would help ease the pressure on families and ensure that every child has the essential support to receive their education.”

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