Parents spend £2.3bn preparing children for new school year

Parents in the UK are currently facing the costly procedure of preparing their children for the new school year and will fork out a collective £…

Parents in the UK are currently facing the costly procedure of preparing their children for the new school year and will fork out a collective £2.3 billion doing it, according to research by Santander Credit Cards.

Kids need to be kitted out with clothes, books, stationery and other necessities in preparation for the new term and people will be paying an average of £224 per child.

Unfortunately, the investment does not end there, as the cost of keeping youngsters in school once the term actually begins totals £447 million per week, which works out at roughly £44 per child per week and includes everyday costs such as packed lunches, bus fares, school trips and after-school activities.

Indeed, costs have risen significantly compared to 2012, when the average parent spent £177 in preparation for the new school year. This is an increase of 27 per cent, which will hurt bank balances as income has not increased at anywhere near the same rate. 

Weekly costs are also up 13 per cent since last year, when keeping a child in school cost around £39 per week. 

According to the research, more than four out of ten (43 per cent) parents with children of a school age drive them to or from school at least once a week, with the average number of journeys being four a week. This means the average driving parent spends around £158.34 on fuel every year. 

However, there has been some respite for parents in that the amount spent on the school run has fallen slightly in 2013. Last year the average annual spend on fuel for the school run was £163.

On a per child basis, school uniform (£41.27), school shoes (£29.33) and jackets and coats (£25.22) are the biggest outlays for parents. Once the term begins, the biggest ongoing expenditure – per child per week – are school trips (£8.97), packed lunches (£7.85), extra-curricular activities (£7.45) and school meals (£7.11).

Alan Mathewson, chief executive officer at Santander Cards, said: "The end of the summer holidays means the annual ‘back-to-school' shopping trip for many parents. Unfortunately kitting out children for the new school term is an expensive task, which comes at a time when many families are under financial pressure and looking to rein in their spending."

By Joe White

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