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Parents say they need greater help with back to school costs as inflation eats into family budgets

Ministers are facing increased pressure to help struggling parents meet rising back to school costs, as inflation means some face bills hundreds of euros higher than last year for books, uniforms and materials.

Advocates say measures are needed to prevent children being affected because of inflation. The National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCPP) said bills have risen from €1,250 a child last year to €1,500 now because of inflation.

It has called on schools to make sure pupils whose parents struggle to pay bills or make contributions to schools are not identifiable to other students.

“The only thing that hasn’t increased is the so-called voluntary contributions but we feel they shouldn’t be there anyway,” NPCPP communications director Paul Rolston said.

“The biggest problem with these is the potential identification of those who cannot pay and the further isolation potentially of children whose parents cannot pay.

“We are appalled by cases where children cannot get lockers or participate in activities because parents cannot pay the contributions and we are adamant schools should be cognizant and sympathetic of those who cannot pay.”

Social Justice Ireland research and policy analyst Michelle Murphy said more parents needed support to cope with the rising cost of living.

“Back to school costs are an issue every year, but now I think it is an issue for families who it probably wasn’t an issue for before, due to rising energy costs, the costs of food and these being passed on to consumers, she said.

While back to school clothing and footwear allowance rates were recently increased by €100, Ms Murphy said the school meals program will also need to be expanded to support more families in need.

Government sources say costs are being monitored and it is unlikely any new measures will be announced before the Budget, but they would like to see more schools avail of book rental schemes and encourage the use of generic uniforms.

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