Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has today launched a campaign which will see the party highlighting the need for action to tackle back to school costs in every constituency across the state.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire has been calling on Government to take further action and help families who are struggling with back-to-school costs, particularly those who have not benefitted from Government action thus far.
The campaign will see TDs, Senators, Councillors and party activists highlighting the issue through canvassing in local communities across the state. Sinn Féin wants to hear directly from families about how back to school costs are affecting them.
The Cork South-Central TD said:
“Last week, Barnardos published a survey which showed that over two thirds of primary (69%) and three-quarters of secondary school parents said they were worried about meeting costs this year.
“Last month, Sinn Féin published a package of measures to cut back-to-school costs.
“This set out how families can get much-needed support for these spiralling costs, as the price of uniforms, school books, lunches, voluntary contributions and transport can reach hundreds or even thousands of Euro.
“We welcome that the Government were forced to listen, and took on board some of our proposals, but they did not go far enough and this research by Barnardos shows that families need further help.
“The Government now needs to immediately take on board our other proposals and ensure that parents who are stressed about meeting back-to-school costs this year get the support that they need and deserve.
“Sinn Féin will be highlighting across all constituencies the need for urgent action to be taken now.
“The findings of the Barnardos survey about back-to-school costs are extremely worrying and expose the extent of the real crisis families are experiencing.
“It is clear that the Government must now listen and take action immediately. Families can’t wait.
“There is still time to act, but the Government cannot delay any longer. This issue is urgent. We are already in the middle of summer and these costs are coming in.
“The Government has shown before that they can act, when they did agree to take on some of Sinn Féin’s proposals.
“I am urging them to deliver on all our measures. Our proposals are fair, reasonable and deliverable. They would make a real difference to families who are under major financial pressure.
“Three quarters of families do not get the Back to School clothing and footwear allowance according to Barnardos.
“If you have one child in school and have a combined income of over €620, you will not qualify. That is a modest income, and a lot of the families that are coming up in the surveys that Barnardos and others are doing are not currently receiving support.
“We are urging the Government to extend back to school allowance to middle income earners, to work towards free school books, and tackle the costs of uniforms and voluntary contributions.
“The Government must act now without any more delay.
“A Sinn Féin Government would stand up for families hit by the cost of living crisis.”