“With over 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2019-2020 (31% of children, or nine in a classroom of 30, child poverty is not as uncommon as it seems. 49% of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty. Lone parents face a higher risk of poverty due to the lack of an additional earner, low rates of maintenance payments, gender inequality in employment and pay, and childcare costs. On top of this many of these already struggling families have to buy school supplies for their children. On average 68% of parents are worried when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Parents whose household income is below £20,000 are the most worried at 77%. UK parents spend around £191 on back-to-school shopping per child. Items like blazers, bags, coats and shoes cost the most, with parents regularly paying more than £20 for these items.
What can the government do to help this? An easy idea is to give vouchers to low income students who can be identified by the school, based on many facets such as those who receive free school meal, so no extra application processes are put in place for the families. School have access to the information and it could work on the same basis as the Food Vouchers given out by Marcus Rashford during lockdown. These vouchers could be used in stores for things like uniform, revision guides, stationery, etc. By doing this we are helping those low income families that may need extra help from the government. To help raise money for these we could partner with stationary stores to help fund the equipment as well as have fundraising throughout the country or have sponsors who would supply the schools with these vouchers.”