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Sunday 30 April 2017

Third of families borrow for 'back to school' costs

The average family is spending €166 per child on uniforms
The average family is spending €166 per child on uniforms
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Close to a third of parents get into debt to cover 'back to school' costs.

The vast majority of families believe that the expense of getting children ready for the new school year is a financial burden, a new survey commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions shows.

The average family is spending €166 per child on uniforms.

Parents of children in secondary school are spending an average of €258 on uniforms alone, the survey shows.

There has been a big shift to buying online rather than using traditional shops, with 47pc shopping using the internet as the majority feel this ensures they get a better deal.

For those parents using shops, Dunnes Stores is considered the best value for school clothing, followed by Marks and Spencer, and then Tesco and Penneys, the survey, which was carried out by iReach on 1,000 respondents, found.

Four out of 10 parents feel under pressure to buy certain brands of school supplies, with this more acute for parents of secondary school pupils.

The Irish League of Credit Unions boss Ed Farrell said the huge financial burden of 'back to school' costs meant that other parts of the family budget were squeezed.

Eight out 10 parents of school-going children feel the cost of sending their kids back to school is a significant financial burden. The survey found that 32pc of parents say they are likely to get themselves into debt to cover this cost. The average amount borrowed is €360.

Most parents say they are expected to make a "voluntary contribution" to the running of their children's school. The average amount is €112, but this is down marginally from last year. Books are the second most expensive item on the list.

Parents of primary school children are shelling out €106 on books, down slightly from €107 in 2014.

Secondary school parents are spending €213 on books, up significantly from €166 in 2014.

School lunches are the third most expensive item on the list.

Primary school parents are spending €116 per child in 2015, down from €122 in 2014.

Secondary school parents are spending €147 per child, up from €134 in 2014.

Seven out of 10 parents admitted that 'back to school' costs will negatively impact household bills and family plans. Parents say they have had to sacrifice their family holiday or children's summer camps this year to cover the cost of sending their children back to the classroom.

Value

'Back to school' expenses also have a negative impact on 29pc of household bill payments, up from 26pc in 2014.

The survey found that 16pc of families will have to sacrifice spending on food to meet the school expenses.

Mr Farrell of the Irish League of Credit Unions said: "We would urge parents to shop around for the best value in 'back to school' items, like school books and uniforms.

"Many parents have told us that they do a lot of their shopping online to avail of better value offers and many of the larger retailers will have good value offers available."

Many parents are doing a lot of their shopping online to avail of what they see as better value

Irish Independent

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