Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that there is in an urgent need to tackle Back to School costs, adding that Sinn Féin have recently proposed a €140 ‘Back to School Bonus’ to be paid to all families in the summer months to help tackle the cost of sending children back to school.
The proposal was contained in a new policy document ‘Lets End Back to School Stress’, published by Sinn Féin. The document also proposes measures to make schools uniforms more affordable; deliver a scheme that makes school books free for all children over a number of Budgets; end school reliance on so-called 'voluntary contributions' and reform and increase funding for the school transport scheme so that it is more flexible and affordable for parents.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire was commenting after the release of the survey by Barnardos has found that almost half of parents do not pay bills or cut back on other things to meet back to school costs.
The Cork South Central TD said:
“Back to School costs make the summer months an extremely difficult time for many households. Every summer parents are put to the pin of their collar trying to organise uniforms, shoes, books, ‘voluntary contributions’, and much more.
“Today's Barnardos report has found that many households are struggling with Back to School costs and more than any other time of year, it is abundantly clear that 'free education' is a myth. All of this is contributing to financial worry for many and that is why Sinn Féin are proposing a new 'Back to School Bonus' of €140 to be paid to all families.
“This would be a double payment of Child Benefit to be paid to all families for each child in July, which would go some way to tackling Back to School costs and help ease the burden on families during the summer months.
“We would also tackle the increasing use of so-called 'voluntary contributions' by properly funding schools through restoring Capitation Grants to pre-recession levels.
“We also would legislate to ensure that schools have to work towards providing affordable uniforms and increase funding to the School Books Scheme to deliver free school books for all school children.