Hard-up families will continue to receive help to buy school uniforms – despite Bradford Council planning to pull half a million pounds of funding.
The Council provides a “necessitous clothing allowance” of £26 per pupil, paid in vouchers, for families on benefits or low incomes.
But with the policy costing the taxpayer £465,000 a year, and the Council looking to make £3.2 million of cuts to its children’s service budget over the next two years, the allowance was likely to face the axe in the coming year’s budget.
A similar cut proposed in 2011 was stopped after a campaign by school pupils.
Now the Bradford Schools Forum – a group of head teachers, governors and non-school members that deals with school budget issues – has responded to the latest cut threat by agreeing that schools will pay the allowance from “pupil premiums”, funding provided to schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
At a recent meeting, the forum decided that if the Council were to cut the funding, then they would support schools taking responsibility for their own arrangements.
This may, however, still require the Council to support schools in managing the transfer.
When the cuts were first proposed, the Council said schools could help poorer families by re-designing their uniforms to make them cheaper or by offering pupils “hand me downs”.
The Conservative group was among the voices calling for schools to keep the grants going, with Councillor Roger L’Amie, education spokesman for Bradford Conservatives, saying: “While the cost of providing school uniforms may be prohibitive to deprived families, it is piffling to the schools, many of whom have huge reserves in the bank.”
Councillor Ralph Berry, executive for children’s services, said: “When we first looked at these cuts we thought the schools may be able to carry on the allowance themselves and they have agreed to do just that.
“The schools forum has decided that schools will meet costs through the pupil premium. It is a good example of the partnership between us and the schools which looks at what’s best for children and their families.
“It is a win win, it means schools will be able to look at how they do things when it comes to uniforms and they may now be able to buy things in themselves.”