Three quarters of parents struggling under rising back to school costs

Nearly a third of parents are getting themselves into debt in order to finance school costs

Three quarters of parents struggling under rising back to school costs

File photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews

One in four parents will be forced to deny their children basic items as they return to school this year.

A new survey from the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) on ‘back to school’ cost has found that three quarters of parents are struggling under the costs.

The average spend for children returning to school this September has risen to €1,209 per child – a 2% rise on 2016.

Emmet Oliver, director of marketing and communications at the ICLU told Newstalk Breakfast that some parents are turning to money lenders to meet the costs.

“What is happening is that a lot of parents are having to make do,” he said. “Not necessarily being able to send their child to all of the events in the school.”

“Some are having to scrimp and save on the kind of uniforms they buy for the child in question and also some people are even going as far as going to moneylenders to finance these costs.”

He said the cost of uniforms is easing but parents are still having difficulty funding gym gear, school trips and school shoes.

“A lot of the retailers are competing very intensely at the moment which is driving down the cost of uniforms but things like books, school lunches and extra-curricular activities continue to be a big portion of the burden on parents as we head towards the start of the school year in September.”

More than a quarter of parents said back to school costs will negatively impact on household bills – with nearly 30% getting themselves into debt to fund the return.

While the average amount borrowed has dropped slightly from €357 to €345 – the majority of parents continue to believe that Irish schools are not doing enough to support them in keeping costs down.

Image: Irish League of Credit Unions

Áine Lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council (NPC) said the survey results are concerning:

“You have got children going into the school that may be anxious and worried because they know they are not bringing the envelope that other children are bringing - with the money in it,” she said.

“But also you have got parents who now; their main relationship with the school is a financial relationship.

“We know through decades of research now that the partnership between the parent and the school is absolutely crucial to better outcomes for children in education.”

The survey found that 43% of parents will be forced to sacrifice spending on family holidays – while one in ten will cut spending on credit cards and food.