Thousands of families across Scotland are to benefit from a £100 minimum school clothing grant, in a nationwide scheme child poverty campaigners have welcomed as “great news” for struggling parents.
An estimated 120,000 families in Scotland are set to benefit from the partnership between Scotland’s Local Authorities and the Scottish Government.
All eligible families, regardless of where they live, will be granted access to the same minimum level of financial support for school clothing.
Under the current scheme, financial support for families to buy school uniform varies from between £50 to £110, but low-income parents highlighted the growing cost of school uniform and spoke about how they were left struggling to find the extra cash.
“The School Clothing Grant of £47.50 goes into your account and you start to panic”, said one parent. Adding: “How am I going to buy a school uniform with that?”
“I like the policy of a full uniform including a blazer and black shoes. What I don’t like is the price tag. The £30 blazer has to be paid for before the end of term – there was an option of buying from the internet but that involved £5 delivery charge.”
Another parent said: “I wasn’t sure at first if I could afford to send all my children back to school on the right day because of the cost of school uniforms and the school being so strict about them wearing it.”
A Scottish pupil said: “You get in trouble if you don’t wear the uniform. I used to be sent home every day for wearing shoes with some blue in them instead of completely black, until my mum could afford a new pair.”
The scheme will begin in time for the 2018/19 academic year with eligibility determined at a local level.
It is estimated that the cost of the new scheme will reach £12 million, with 50% of the cost met by additional Scottish Government funding and 50% met by individual local authorities.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney said: “Every child in Scotland should be able to attend school feeling comfortable, confident and ready to learn.
“We know that school uniforms can be a considerable cost for families which is why we have worked in partnership with COSLA to introduce a new national minimum school clothing grant.
“It will help relieve pressure on families, reduce costs of living and remove the stress and stigma which can often be associated with struggling to afford essential school items.”
Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA’s Spokesperson for Children and Young People, said: “School uniform can be a significant cost to families and COSLA are delighted that, together with Scottish Government, all councils will be introducing an increased minimum school clothing grant across the country.
“Every child in Scotland deserves the best chance in life and for too long poverty has blighted the life chances of too many of our children and young people.
“Access to decent clothing is an important part of ensuring children have the best chance of getting the most from their education.
“Therefore it is only right that we do the best we can to create as much of a level playing field as we can in terms of school uniform.
“Scotland’s councils are committed to making the learning experience as positive as possible for our young people.”
Commenting on the announcement, John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said: “This is great news for the thousands of families who struggle to meet the costs of school clothing on top of all the other essentials they need to budget for.
“£100 is now the absolute minimum grant that must be offered to families struggling on low incomes.
“Grants are already higher in some areas, and the actual cost of kitting out a child for school was recently calculated as £129.50. But this new £100 minimum provides a very welcome basic level of consistent support for parents, wherever they live in Scotland.”