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31st Aug 2023

250 parents contacting SVP every day ahead of new school term

Over 250 parents contacted SVP every day last week due to the rising pressure of back-to-school costs.

Parents and guardians are feeling even more financial pressure as schools re-open this week. The free book scheme and additional social welfare payments have eased the pressure.

However, many are still struggling to keep their heads above water.

According to SVP, there has been a 20% decrease in calls for help with back-to-school costs, but families are still struggling.

SVP reported a 14% increase which is mainly driven by food and energy bills.

The charity recorded a 20% decrease in calls for help with back-to-school costs to its regional offices this summer. This contrasts with an overall rise in calls to the charity by 14%, with over 135,000 calls received so far this year.

SVP confirmed the free primary school books scheme and the temporary €100 increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) is having a positive impact on costs for parents of primary school children.

However, parents are still concerned about the contribution fee, as well as the cost of sending children to secondary school. The free school book scheme has not yet been extended to secondary pupils. However, the Government is considering extending it in the coming years.

It is understood that 60% of the calls are from single-parent families.

SVP National President Rose McGowan said:

“Meeting parents in their homes this summer we can see how the provision of free schoolbooks is making a positive difference.

“More families are just about able to manage primary school costs but requests for ‘voluntary’ contributions are still coming to families.

“For those with older children, the costs are too much to bear.

“We’ve taken calls from parents who have to pay €600 for an iPad. Sometimes they are also asked to pay another €200 for books. The high cost of transition year is increasingly an issue as well.”

SVP has called on the Government to make the “right choices in Budget 2024”.