Council to ask government to lower uniform costs for 'people struggling financially'

Parents with children in state schools spent an average of £337 per year on school uniforms

Parents with children in state schools spent an average of £337 per year on school uniforms - Credit: Michael Maggs

The government has been urged to speed up measures making school uniforms cheaper following a vote by North Devon Council (NDC). 

At a full council meeting, councillor Helen Walker (Lib Dems, Bickington) put forward a motion asking the government to implement a newly passed law and create guidance to make school uniforms, including shoes, affordable for all.  

The council approved cllr Walker’s motion, which also called on the government to remove any monopoly school uniform manufacturers may have over supply, leading to artificially inflated prices. 

Council leader David Warden (Lib Dems, South Molton) encouraged councillors to tell families who need it to use the council’s hardship fund to help with uniform costs. 

But councillor Matthew Bushell (Lib Dems, South Molton) worried that, “the poorest people are the last people to ask for help in a lot of cases,” and said the best solution is to bring down the cost of school uniforms for everybody. 

A 2020 report by the Children’s Society, a charity, found that parents with children in state schools spent an average of £337 per year on school uniforms, far more than what most parents think reasonable. 

A new cross-party law aimed at reducing the cost of school uniforms was passed in April, but the Department for Education has yet to update its guidance. It is hoped this will be announced shortly and take effect by the start of the next school year. 

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Councillor Paul Crab (Conservative, Ilfracombe East) said the council’s motion was ‘ostensibly very sensible’ but argued that with the new law already passed the council should be focusing on other issues. 

Councillor Joy Cann (Lib Dems, Bickington Ward) said she fully supported the motion, arguing: “We should care about people struggling financially in our area.”

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