As the school summer holidays draw to an end, a new survey commissioned by Turn2us, part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care, reveals the financial pressure parents are facing as they prepare their children for the start of the new school term. One in three (33%) parents surveyed said they are worried about the costs they will incur sending their children back to school in September and over a third (34%) said they feel that there are too many extras – such as school trips, books and sports equipment – to pay for when sending children to school.
However, although parents are feeling anxious about money, many are not aware of the financial support that may be available to help them during financially tight times. Less than one per cent of parents surveyed said they have approached a charity for financial support, yet there are around 3,500 charitable funds (national, regional and local) that may be able to give financial support. These have a total annual expenditure of £366 million.
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Families who are already struggling to make ends meet due to reduced salaries and benefits, redundancy and other changes in working conditions will be driven to crisis point by back to school costs. Yet there is a range of charitable grants that may be able to give financial assistance for welfare or educational purposes. It’s important that parents investigate all sources of support, including help from charities”.
Struggling financially can have a wide ranging effect on all family members. Over one in eight (12%) parents feel guilty that their child isn’t always as well-dressed for school as other pupils and around one in eight (12%) parents said their child had been bullied in the last 12 months because they didn’t have the newest or best clothes or equipment for school. Children from families with limited incomes are also not always able to take part in all school activities, and around one in seven (14%) parents said their child has not being able to attend school trips in the last 12 months because of the costs involved.
Rob Tolan, Head of Policy and Research at Elizabeth Finn Care said: “Over seventy per cent of the parents Elizabeth Finn Care has helped said they couldn’t afford school costs such before they came to us. It is important that parents make themselves aware of all the support that is available to them in the form of welfare benefits and charitable grants by checking the Turn2us website.”
Turn2us is encouraging parents to check their eligibility for additional financial support. Anyone can visit the free website www.turn2us.org.uk in confidence to find out what charitable grants or welfare benefits they may be eligible for, to help reduce the financial pressures.
Commenting on the Turn2us research, Jeremy Todd, Chief Executive of Family Lives said: “Schools must think carefully about expecting families to provide specific uniform items that can only be purchased from certain retailers, sometimes at greater cost. If you are a family with limited means then you simply will not have the funds to purchase new school uniforms every year especially if you have a number of children. Therefore whilst families can be signposted to charities to help them with costs, there is something here to be said about the pressure children can put upon parents for new things. Families affected by bullying can visit www.bullyinguk.co.uk for support.”
Jasmine Birtles, of Moneymagpie.com, has produced the following back to school tips:
- Get the whole family involved. – The best way to save, and make, money as a family is to do it together. Have regular family meetings where you talk about things you want to do as a family and work out together where you can make savings and how you can make extra cash to pay for it. Once the children understand the situation they can help day-to-day.
Find out if you are eligible for a charitable grant. If you are on a low income, help may be available to you from a charitable fund. Use the Turn2us Grants Search database www.turn2us.org.uk to find charitable funds that may be able to help you, based on your personal circumstances, background and needs.