Flawed system costing parents dearly
THE cost of sending children to school runs into 'telephone numbers' according to a County Wexford St Vincent de Paul (SVdP) volunteer.
Nicholas Foley, Secretary of New Ross SVdP, said: 'We are in the midst of this at the moment and we have received a lot of calls. People are ringing in and we are assessing situations and seeing what people want. People have got the Back to School Allowance and there are extra books to be paid for and clothes, but more haven't got it.'
Mr Foley said: 'There doesn't seem to be any abatement. I don't know if the (economic) recovery has hit New Ross yet. I don't think it has as people seem to be under as much pressure as always.' Mr Foley said people are not turning to loan sharks as much over the past year.
'Whether people are getting some sense, I don't know. There will always be a few around and people are under pressure to pay for their children to go to school.'
The Wexford SVdP officers encourage people struggling with debt to go to MABS, where they can get free advice on rearranging their debt repayments and making budgets.
Mr Foley said something has to be done to ensure schoolbooks can be used for more than one year, as parents can't afford to pay €400 a year for them.
'When I was in school books were handed down from one sibling to the next. Maths haven't changed that much and I know the world is changing but surely geography books can be passed down. We are getting inundated with back to school calls and this will continue until mid-September.'
Area President Ben Doyle said the effects of the recession are still very much in evidence in homes across the county.
'We have had some requests from parents already for help to pay back to school costs. Third level education is another major cost for parents and our education conference is very busy handling numerous requests already.' Ms Doyle said school books and associated costs are still very expensive.
She urged parents to discuss with their child's school about contributions which are sought and can amount to around €200 per year in some cases. 'We have come up against that and we have found that if parents can't pay it, schools are very lenient in county Wexford.' She said Wexford's SVdP conferences are as busy as ever and the staff are bracing themselves for a busy Christmas period already.