One in four parents will see child go short over back-to-school costs

Average spend per primary school child has risen €81 to €1,048 per year

Nearly one-in-four parents will deny their children basic school items this year as they struggle to cover the cost of returning to school next month, an Irish League of Credit Unions survey has revealed.  Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

Nearly one-in-four parents will deny their children basic school items this year as they struggle to cover the cost of returning to school next month, an Irish League of Credit Unions survey has revealed. Photograph: Lorraine Teevan

 

Nearly one-in-four parents will deny their children some basic school items this year as they continue to struggle to cover the cost of returning to school next month, a new survey has revealed.

The average spend per primary school child has increased by €81 since last year and is now put at €1,048, while the cost of sending a secondary school child back to school have fallen from €1,474 to €1,401.

One-fifth of parents with children in primary school and nearly one-third of those with children in secondary school say they will have no choice but to cut back on some spending this year.

However, the numbers of parents who are able to pay school bills from their own incomes, rather than debt has increased from 64 per cent last year to 71 per cent now.

Nearly three-quarters of parents, however, feel back-to-school spending is a financial burden and 27 per cent said they thought the costs would impact negatively on household bills.

Forty per cent of parents will not spend money on new shoes, while more than two-thirds said extracurricular activities would have to be cut. More than a third will cut back on gym gear or school trips.

Income vs debt

“It is somewhat encouraging to see that more parents than ever are funding the back-to-school spend through their monthly income, with a fall in the numbers getting into debt,” said the Irish League of Credit Unions’ Emmet Oliver.

However, he said it is clear the costs are still so high “that they are forced to deny their children some basic items, as well as sacrifice spending on family holidays and even food”.

Efforts to bring down the price of school uniforms appear to have paid off, says the league, with a fall of 21 per cent or €39 in the estimated cost of uniforms since last year.

Extracurricular activities for children remain the single most expensive bill, followed by school lunches and school books. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of parents now expect to have to pay €113 a year in “voluntary contributions”.

The numbers getting into debt because of school bills falls two percentage points to 29 per cent, while the average sum borrowed also falls from €357 last year to €345 this year.

Primary school parents on average borrow €310, significantly less than secondary school parents who borrow €415.