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Families cutting back on food to pay rising school bills, survey says

More than one in 10 parents have to cut food bills in order to cover back to school costs, a survey has found.

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) said the money needed to get youngsters ready for the new term in August and September has soared since 2012.

It now costs on average 967 euro to send a child back to primary school and 1,474 euro for secondary.

And three quarters of parents told researchers they do not think schools are doing enough to keep costs down.

The credit union research found escalating price tags are run up on new uniforms and gym gear at an average of 257 euro a child, the so-called voluntary contribution to the school at about 113 euro and books at 145 euro.

Bills also fly in for after-school care, extracurricular classes, lunches, school trips and transport.

The most expensive items on the list were uniforms for secondary school children at an average of 234 euro.

Ed Farrell, chief executive of the ILCU, urged people to properly assess what they need, set a budget and stick to it.

“While it can be tedious, we would urge parents to shop around for the best value deals,” he said.

“Many of the major retailers will offer fantastic deals on uniforms and school supplies.”

He added: “Most importantly avoid using moneylenders. If you are considering a loan, make sure to visit your local credit union to see what is available to you.”

The credit union survey found almost one third of parents get themselves into debt trying to pay the bills.

On average parents borrowed 357 euro, down slightly from last year by three euro.

And 14% of the mothers and fathers in debt over back to school costs said they have used a moneylender at one time to get the cash.

The survey of 1,000 adults in June also examined the knock-on effect ,with two thirds of parents saying they sacrifice a family holiday to meet the costs.

Elsewhere, 13% of parents will save on food bills.

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One third of parents this year said the back-to-school charges will have no adverse impact on them, up from 28% last year.

Almost eight out of 10 parents are now expected to make a voluntary contribution to the school, the survey said.

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