30 Nov 2015

Responding to the Chancellor’s decision to clamp down on school uniform costs, by placing guidance for schools on a statutory footing, Peter Grigg, Director of External Affairs at The Children’s Society, said:

'This welcome move should help lift the burden of rip-off school uniform costs from struggling parents and children who have paid too much for too long. According to our estimates, families are over-paying by £375m a year, while inflated prices mean more than a million children are going to school in incorrect, unclean, or poorly fitting uniform.

'The reality is that school uniform costs have been a millstone around the necks of poorer parents, contributing to a cycle of debt and damaging the opportunities and well-being of lower-income pupils.

'Now schools are legally bound to make uniforms affordable we would hope to see costs fall significantly. But toughening up Government rules will only work if they are enforced and there is a consistent and fair approach in all schools across the country.'

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Notes to Editors
• The Chancellor’s announcement on school uniforms is part of a broader plan aimed at reducing a range of costs on families and firms. Treasury press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-launches-game-changing-pla...
• The Treasury’s full report, A Better Deal (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...) contains the following section on school uniforms (page 11): “The government wants to ensure that families get the best value for school uniforms. A 2015 Department for Education survey found that nearly one-fifth of parents and carers reported that they had suffered financial hardship as a result of purchasing their child’s school uniform. The survey found that parents and carers are significantly less likely to report that they have experienced hardship if schools allow them to purchase uniforms from a variety of suppliers. The government wants to ensure that effective competition is used to drive better value for money and will therefore put existing best practice guidance for school uniform supply in England on a statutory footing. This will ensure that schools deliver the best value for parents by avoiding exclusivity arrangements unless regular competitions for suppliers are run.”
• The Children’s Society’s analysis of Department for Education research shows that, if all parents were able to purchase school uniform and PE kit from any supplier they could save £189m and £186m respectively – a total of £375 million per year. Source: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/our-blog/parents-still...
• The Children’s Society has been highlighting the problem of high school uniform costs for some time. Earlier this year we published our report, The Wrong Blazer, which set out the need for action to support families: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications....
• The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.