Call for more help for Edinburgh’s low-income parents over school clothing this winter

Parents have been advised to ensure children wear extra layers since windows will be open for ventilation
Parents have been advised to ensure children wear extra layers since windows will be open for ventilation

In a letter to parents last week, the city’s chief education officer Andy Gray said: “Classrooms will require to maintain adequate ventilation and, while school heating systems will be fully utilised, it would be wise to consider extra layers of clothing.”

John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, said the policy was understandable but highlighted the need for extra support.

“It reinforces the case for additional financial support to be made available to struggling low-income families. They are the ones who have been hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.

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“We are calling on the UK Government to increase Child Benefit and the child element of Universal Credit by £10 per week. Here in Scotland, we welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce the new Scottish Child Payment, but that won’t actually be rolled out to school-age children until 2022.

“In the meantime all local authorities in Scotland provide a school clothing grant for low-income families of a minimum of £100. We’re urging the Scottish Government and local authorities to work together to provide an additional school clothing grant to help families through the winter and bridge the gap to the roll-out of the Scottish Child Payment. It’s that kind of support that families need to be able to cope with the additional pressures of the pandemic.”

Mr Dickie said schools often had banks of extra uniforms and other clothing available to ensure children had enough to wear.

“There are good examples of uniform swaps and clothing banks where clothing is pooled within schools and children can access that when they need to. It’s important that is done in a way where there isn’t any stigma attached to that. But fundamentally this is about ensuring all our families have adequate resources to be able to equip their children to participate in school in these new circumstances we find ourselves in.”

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