Thousands of families in one area of Greater Manchester will be offered vouchers worth up to £50 to spend on school uniforms. Bury Council is one of the first in the country to provide help with the price of uniforms as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.
Any school-aged children in receipt of free school meals will be eligible for a voucher, which can be used at supermarkets and specific clothing shops. A total of £240,000 has been set aside to cover the cost of the scheme.
In all, around 6,000 children will be included in the vouchers project. Secondary school pupils will be eligible for a £50 token, while primary school children will get £30.
The intervention is one strand of the council’s cost of living support and anti-poverty strategy which has been recently published as families face huge rises in energy bills and fuel costs as well as rising price inflation.
‘One off payment’
The report, said: “£240,000 was committed by the council to enable the introduction of a school uniform grant to support those families most in need. The council agreed to the payment of a grant to all benefits related free school meal eligible families, on the basis of £30 per primary age child and £50 per secondary age child, to be administered through schools in the same way that the council funded food voucher scheme has operated.
“This will be a one-off payment to those families eligible during the summer term 2022, with vouchers being issued during June.”
The council’s cost of living support and anti-poverty strategy highlighted the stark situation for low income households in the coming months.
It said: “Bury has become relatively more deprived compared to other areas with more people living in the same areas of deprivation in 2019 than in 2015 and the pandemic likely to have compounded this further. The council has therefore significantly strengthened its focus on anti-poverty over the last 18 months.
“The national economic context, particularly the cost of living crisis, now demands a review of the council’s strategy.”
Other council measures included in the strategy are intended as an ‘immediate, urgent offer to support Bury residents with the cost of living crisis’.
They included using national funding for ‘urgent winter hardship support to provide direct financial support for food, fuel and winter essentials, including emergency boiler repairs and support with essential white goods’. The Fit and Fed campaign in the borough will be used to address holiday hunger in school children.
It is run by the Live Well Service, working in partnership with the public health, school catering, community centres and food banks. The council said there would be a continuation of the provision of vouchers for those households eligible for free school meals over six week summer holiday and there has been or would be a direct payment of £100 to 4,700 pensioners in receipt of council tax support.
Resilience support would also be provided to food banks across the borough.