Urgent action needed to cut back-to-school costs – Conor McGuinness

Sinn Féin leader on Waterford City and County Council Conor McGuinness has called on the Government to take urgent action to help families across Waterford, who are struggling with back-to-school costs. He made the call following the recent publication of a survey by Barnardos that he said are ‘profoundly worrying’.

Cllr McGuinness said:

“The findings of the Barnardos survey about back-to-school costs are extremely worrying and expose the extent of the real crisis families across Waterford City and County are experiencing. It is clear that the Government must now listen and take action immediately. Families can’t wait.

“The survey found 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.

“While the government took on board some of our proposals, they did not go far enough and this research by Barnardos shows that families need further help. The Government now need to 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.

“Middle income families need help this summer. They can’t wait. People who have one child in school and who have a combined income of €620 or more per week don’t get any assistance in terms of Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. Sinn Féin are proposing that this eligibility is widened to include middle income earners.

“These are people on modest incomes who are working hard and cannot afford to pay these spiralling back-to-school costs. It would be fair and reasonable for the eligibility to be widened to ensure these families get a break from the cost of living crisis. This would make a real difference to so many people.

“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. Families cannot wait any longer.

“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.

“The Government must widen eligibility for the Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance now, so that middle income earners can receive much-needed help with back-to-school costs. Sinn Féin would extend the Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance to an additional 500,000 children. A Sinn Féin Government would stand up for families hit by the cost of living crisis.”

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