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Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston 10:35 am, 13th March 2020

I have heard the hon. Gentleman, but the Bill means that the Government would have to take the necessary steps to limit the amount of school uniform that must be branded.

The Government could also use the powers contained in the Bill to ensure that schools must have a fair and open tendering process at the end of each financial year, which would increase competitiveness and help drive down costs, and the savings could then be passed on to families.

One such family is Paula Hay’s. Paula has four children. Her youngest is 14 and still at school. Over the years the family have struggled to pay for uniforms, especially when the three older boys were all at secondary school at the same time. Paula said:

“Having to buy three sets of everything was expensive and I would have to rely on my parents to help out. If they had not covered the costs of things like shoes and trainers, I am not sure how we would have managed it.”

Paula’s daughter is currently in year 9. At the start of the current school year her school changed its uniform, which meant Paula had to buy everything new again. She said:

“I bought two skirts and a blazer for £89, and then we had to add a tie and a few bits for the PE kits. It was well over £100 on those items. Then there were additional shirts, jumpers and tights—it all adds up. Many of the schools use that same shop, which means you don’t have a choice and have to buy the more expensive items. It’s not fair to those from low-income families.”

This Bill can and will, if utilised effectively by the Government, make a real difference for families like the Hays. That is why I commend the Bill to the House and call on Back Benchers and Front Benchers to support it through all the stages required to make it law.