Saturday 18 August 2018

Parents sacrifice summer hols as cost of sending children back to school hits over €1,200

Thousands will be forced to deny their children basic school items this year

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Thousands of parents will be forced to deny their children basic school items this year as they struggle to fund the back-to-school spend.

A majority of mums and dads say they will buy foreign goods over Irish-produced ones if it means reducing school costs.

A survey commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions claims average return-to-school spend continues to increase and has now reached €1,209 per child. This is the costs over the course of the school year.

This is up from €1,185 last year, a rise of 2pc.

One in four parents will deny their children the likes of extracurricular activities, new shoes or school trips as they struggle to meet the education costs.

The survey, conducted by iReach among 1,000 people, claims almost two thirds of families say the school spend is a major financial burden for them.

Parents are set to shell out €1,048 on primary school children over the course of the year. This is up €80 on last year, according to the survey.

For children in secondary school, the costs have gone down by €73, to €1,400.

A spokeswoman for the Irish League of Credit Unions dismissed suggestions the figures are higher than most families will spend.

She denied the figures were deliberately inflated to encourage people to take out credit union loans.

"The survey is carried out by an independent third-party market research company, iReach. Parents of school-going children are invited to estimate what they spend at back-to-school time," she said.

The cost survey includes expenditure for school lunches, which some parents argue would have to be funded whether children are in school or not.

Read more: 'I was amazed my son's uniform will cost €200' - Mum-of-two shocked by spiralling school costs

However, the survey does show that more people this year are in a position to fund school costs through their income, rather than borrowing.

But the findings indicate that funding the annual spend continues to be a challenge.

The survey found 72pc of parents feel the back-to-school spend is a financial burden, with more than a quarter saying the costs will impact negatively on household bills.

Some parents said they will end up sacrificing a family holiday this year because of the cost.

The biggest expenditure tends to be extracurricular activities, followed by school lunches, books and then uniforms.

Tesco has overtaken Dunnes Stores as the preferred shop for school supplies. Dunnes Stores has fallen to second place, Marks and Spencer comes in third place, with Aldi in fourth.

When it comes to school uniforms, parents again say that Tesco is now their preferred store with almost a quarter saying they were shopping for uniforms there.

Marks and Spencer is in second place. Dunnes Stores slipped to third place.

Two-thirds of parents say they will buy foreign school products over Irish-produced goods if it means making savings.

After monthly income, savings continue to be the preferred method of funding the cost, with one-third of parents using saved funds.

One in six parents rely on the State's back-to-school allowance, down from 20pc in 2016.

The numbers using credit cards remained the same, on 16pc. Some 4pc said they would consider turning to a moneylender.

The survey found 7pc would use the credit union, while 1pc would approach the bank.

Head of marketing and communications at the Irish League of Credit Unions Emmet Oliver said it was encouraging that more parents are funding the school spend through their monthly income, with a fall in the numbers getting into debt.

"However, it's clear that the back-to-school spend is still so much of a financial burden on parents that they are forced to deny their children some basic items, as well as sacrificing spending on family holidays and even food," he said.

Irish Independent

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