Over one third of Munster parents (34%) are reporting that they are in back-to-school related debt, a figure slightly lower than the national average of 36%.

Parents getting children ready for secondary school are spending €1,399 per child (up €20 on last year), however parents of primary school children are spending less, €949 (€50 decrease on last year).

Understandably, more parents of secondary school children are finding costs a struggle. Eight in ten (83%) say the back to school spend is a financial burden, compared with 77% of parents at primary level.

Munster parents appear to be very adept at handling back to school costs according to a new, national survey. The province’s parents are least likely to deny their children back to school items because they cannot afford them.

Slightly more than a quarter (26%) say they will have to cut certain items off the back to school list, compared to one third of parents nationally.

The Munster region has the lowest number of parents saying they will cut out extracurricular activities; 55% compared with 68% nationally.

There are slightly more parents however cutting out new shoes (24) and new gym gear (33%) in Munster, compared with 22% and 29% nationally.

Overall however, parents in Munster struggle financially at back to school time, with 78% saying the costs are a financial burden, on a par with the national average.

The most expensive item at second level was again books, coming in at €220.

Uniforms/clothing was next on the list at €200, with school trips set to cost parents €190 this year, compared with €159 last year.

Positive trend

The findings were revealed in a national survey of 882 parents of school children by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), carried out in June 2019.

Commenting on these findings, Paul Bailey, ILCU Head of Communications, said: “We are very encouraged to see that the numbers approaching moneylenders has fallen by 1% since last year (3% down from 4%). The research also showed that those using credit cards to cover the Back to School spend has decreased by 5% (falling from 18% to 13%).

“We see this as a very positive response to the credit union message that they are an affordable, convenient and ethical alternative to credit cards and moneylenders.

“We would encourage all parents in need of financial assistance to contact their local credit union and forego moneylenders and credit cards completely.”

Almost three-quarters of parents say schools are not doing enough to keep costs down.

When asked how schools could do more to help parents, 37% said reducing the price of books or introducing a book rental scheme. 21% said the option of generic uniforms or even free uniforms would help.