Cost of living increases are impacting parents budgeting for back-to-school expenses, according to a new survey for the Irish League of Credit Unions.
Back-to-school expenses are leaving more parents with debt, including credit card debt, according to the findings of the survey of 764 parents.
As the cost of living continues to rise in Ireland, this new survey finds that the number of parents who say back-to-school costs are a financial burden is up to 66% from 63%.
The Credit Union survey says parents are noting price increases across a range of areas including school books, uniforms and transport.
Parents of secondary students are paying €1,518 per child, up €27 on last year, while parents of primary pupils are paying €9 extra, amounting to a total of €1,195 per pupil.
The survey also finds the number of parents who will deny extra curricular activities to their children because they cannot afford them has risen to 67% up from 46% last year.
Three quarters of of parents use general income to pay back-to-school costs but the numbers using credit cards has increased to 29% up from from 23% in 2021.
Nine out of 10 parents with children in school say they have been affected by the rising cost of living since the beginning of the year.
Head of Communications with the Irish League of Credit Unions Paul Bailey said the cost of sending a child to school has reached the highest level since since the Credit Union began conducting the survey in 2017.
He said 90% of respondents said the rising cost of living is affecting their household costs and their income.
“One in three said they’re really struggling to stretch the household budget, and when you add in school on top of that, that increases to four in ten people,” he said.
“There’s a huge increase in the amount of people using their credit card from last year and that’s a concern because a credit card is a high cost of debt,” he stated.
“One in ten are falling into debt – 3% of those would consider going an unregulated or unlicensed moneylender,” he said.
He also said that two thirds of parents turning to moneylenders did not know the difference between regulated and unregulated, which he said is an ongoing concern.
Mr Bailey also said that 66% of schools nationally charged voluntary contributions, which he said puts pressure on parents.
He acknowledged that schools need funding and if they are not funded properly by the State then they must get it from somewhere.
“But to call it voluntary I think is a misnomer,” he said.
The survey comes as the back-to-school allowance is set to increase by €100 per child from August, while an additional 60,000 children will receive a school meal, and charges for school transport will be suspended for one year.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said the increase will ensure that families are in a “much better and stronger position”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said: “It is a cumulative process, there’s a further opportunity to look further at these measures and indeed other measures on the 27 September.