Parent spends £200 a child on school uniform amid calls to cut VAT

File photo dated 08/03/21 of children Scarlett Greggan (left) and Madison Lowry playing patty cake d

Suffolk parents have had to fork out up to £200 on school uniform ahead of September - Credit: PA

A campaign is underway to remove VAT from school uniform, as Suffolk parents report forking out eye-watering sums ahead of September. 

One mum at St Pancras Catholic primary school in Ipswich said school uniform cost her around £200 per child.

She said: "This could be greatly reduced if schools would allow generic jumpers and or blazers. £22.50 for a viscose jumper — lovely. The same in plain navy is £4 in supermarkets."

Other parents in the county also reported school uniform costing them upwards of £100.

Bridget Coe, director of schoolwear at Coes, said the retailer worked closely with schools to come up with their school uniform.

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She said: "We will speak with schools when they're looking at their uniform. We go to them with various options of what they're looking to do in terms of a corporate identity.

"That corporate identity helps to build respect within the school, improves behaviour and reduces bullying."

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Miss Coe said the retailer looked at ways of keeping down cost as part of these conversations. She said that a uniform for a child at secondary school averaged between £85-130.

"We have all those conversations then it's down to a school to decide exactly what they want us to stock," she said.

She added that the retailer was part of a campaign to remove VAT from school uniform.

"Currently for anything primary specific we do not have to charge VAT," she said. "However, as soon as you hit senior school, you have to charge VAT. 

"We are part of the Schoolwear Association and there is a campaign happening within government to actually remove VAT from all school uniform."

Jennifer McGhee Wallace, interim head of St Pancras Catholic School, said: "Only two of our items need to be purchased at a specialist uniform shop. These items are the school jumper and the school tie which are uniquely identifiable to the school.  

"All other uniform items can be purchased from any other retailer."

Private school uniforms can be even more expensive. 

Blazers for children between the ages of four and eleven at one Ipswich private school cost £95.95, while blazers for another Suffolk private school cost just £36.95.

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