Parents not yet budgeting for return to school costs

Half of parents in Britain whose children will be attending primary school this year have not started budgeting for the cost of uniforms and other essentials for the new school year, with those in the Midlands the least likely to have begun budgeting.

According to a Money Advice Service report, just over a third (36%) of parents surveyed in the Midlands currently have a budget plan to pay for school supplies, such as uniforms, stationery, meals and trips. This compares with more than half (54%) of parents in the north of England.

Almost one in three (31%) parents surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales are planning to pay for their child’s primary school items as and when they are needed. Most (55%) intend to use or have used their debit card to make purchases, although over a quarter (27%) will dip into savings. Over one in five parents have used or intend to use their credit card to fund their children’s primary school expenses.

Parents also have widely differing views on how much they will spend on their children’s primary school supplies. Almost a quarter (23%) believe they will spend between £50 and £100, while one in six (16%) thinks they won’t spend more than £50. Around 5% of parents think they will spend over £1,000.

Both the Office of Fair Trading and the Local Government Authority have been looking into the cost of school uniforms. In August 2012 the LGA found that the average primary school uniform cost £160, meaning many parents may be underestimating the likely cost of sending their child to primary school for the year.

Schools that insist on parents buying from a preferred supplier were criticised for driving up the cost of uniforms, prompting the OFT to write to schools.

“When schools require that uniforms are bought from a preferred supplier or shop it can act as a tax on families, which mostly goes to the chosen retailers,” said Susan Oxley, assistant director in the OFT’s goods and consumer group.

“However, when families are able to shop around for school uniform items it can drive competition and bring down prices for all.”

The Money Advice Service report is based on YouGov research that polled more than 4,000 adults online in July 2013, of which 421 were parents of a child who will be attending primary school this coming academic year.

Sending your child to school for the first time? Money Advice Service’s Back-to-school planner will help you work out how much school supplies will cost. Find out how other parents budget for school expenses by watching this video

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4099 adults, of whom 429 were parents of a child attending primary school this school year. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 25th July 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).





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