Anger is growing at council plans to axe a scheme to provide a discretionary school clothing allowance, which could now lead to an increase in the price of school uniforms.
Cabinet bosses made the announcement as they look to make savings of £7.4m for the 2017/18 financial year.
A council spokesman said: “As a local authority, St Helens Council has no statutory duty to provide support towards the cost of purchasing a school uniform, but has done so for over 20 years, while most neighbouring authorities have already ended this arrangement.”
On hearing the news, readers took to the Reporter’s Facebook page to make their thoughts on the matter clear.
Michelle Atherton posted: “I feel for the pupils, sometimes it has reduced me to tears seeing some of the pupils who really need some assistance.”
Meanwhile, Elaine Harley, was worried about the impact that the decision may have on children from families struggling to make ends meet.
“Not fair for those who can’t afford school uniforms who have more than one child. You will see children going into school with worn out uniforms on in the near future. Such a shame on the kids, they’re the ones that will suffer with all the name calling.”
The council have moved to assuage the fears of struggling families, however, claiming that they will continue to do their best to ensure that everyone has access to school uniforms.
“Proposals set out in the cabinet report included plans to encourage schools to set a low cost and easy available uniform policy,” continued the spokesman.
“However, in special circumstances, continued support will be made available to vulnerable families experiencing exceptional financial hardship through a revised Discretionary Assistance Scheme, if all other options for accessing a uniform have been exhausted.
“The council will work with uniform providers, schools and their governing bodies, to inform parents and guardians of the alternative suppliers of uniforms available - and provide support to enable them to devise strategies to effectively and sensitively manage any issues that may arise.”
The change will come into force from 1 May, 2017, and is expected to save the council £255,000.