UK charity offers help to parents who are worried about the costs of sending their kids back to school

As cuts, salary freezes and childcare fees continue to wipe out family earnings, UK charity Turn2us is urging parents to check their eligibility online to help pay for uniforms, class materials, school trips and lunches.

Anyone can visit the free website www.turn2us.org.uk in confidence to find out what welfare benefits or charitable grants they may receive and make sure that their children get the best start possible.

The push comes in response to recent news that schooling has made up the largest increase in family spending with costs estimated to have increased by almost a quarter (24%) from £694 a year in 2007 to £849 in 2012.*

According to other reports last week, parents face having to fork out £1,200 on school extras per year.**

The research confirms the charity’s own findings that sending children back to school is a major strain for many families who are already struggling financially.

One in three parents (33%) surveyed said they were worried about the costs they would incur in the new school year, and over a third (34%) said they felt there are too many extras- such as school trips, books and sports equipment – to pay for when sending children to school.

Tragically, around one in eight (12%) parents said their child had been bullied in the last 12 months because they didn’t have the newest or best clothes or equipment for school, and around one in seven (14%) said that their child had not been able to attend school trips the previous year because of the costs involved.

For Rachel, a full-time mother of three, the inability to afford a computer at home meant her children were at risk of falling behind with their homework and couldn’t keep up with their classmates.

“We ended up walking to the library, friend’s houses, absolutely anywhere just to borrow one. It was soul destroying because my partner was working every hour he had then there were days when we didn’t have a penny in our pockets.”

It was only when Rachel came across Turn2us that she discovered her family were entitled to Housing Benefit and help with Council Tax. This allowed her save up enough to buy a computer and relieve some of the financial pressure.
“We were already claiming Child and Working Tax Credit and had been told that added help such as free school dinners were off the cards so I thought we were already receiving all we could.”

“I would say to all other parents out there that the system is very complicated so it’s worth checking Turn2us even if you are already claiming grants and benefits, or have been turned away somewhere else.”

Research methodology

· All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a national survey conducted by OnePoll between 7-15 July 2011. Total sample was 2919 parents/guardians aged 18+ years with an annual salary of less than £41,000 and with children aged between 5-13 years.

· *Source: The Daily Mail (3.9.12) How raising a child up to the age of 11 costs more than £90,000: Average annual costs up by 15% in five years www.dailymail.co.uk

· **Source: The Mirror (31.8.12) Parents spend average £1,247 on school extras: www.mirror.co.uk

Turn2us helps people to access the money available to them through charitable grants, welfare benefits and other financial help. The Turn2us free, confidential online service – www.turn2us.org.uk – is designed to help individuals quickly and easily find charitable grants, welfare benefits, or tax credits available to them – all in one place. The website has a number of tools to make the process simpler, including a grants search, benefits calculator and ‘find an adviser’ tool to help locate face to face advice. Turn2us works in partnership with organisations across the UK, including AdviceUK, Association of Charitable Organisations, Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group, Home-Start UK and Money Advice Trust to develop our services and reach the many millions of people that need our help.

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