School voluntary contribution charges are “crippling” Limerick families, says TD

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan

THE GOVERNMENT must make efforts to put an end to the stress and financial pressures felt by families stemming from “crippling” yearly school fees.

That’s according to Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who has called on the Government to act “urgently to protect families from crippling school costs”.

Deputy Quinlivan was commenting following the publication of a report by St Vincent De Paul (SVP) that suggested many Irish parents are feeling the pinch on account of the voluntary contribution charges schools request each year.

The voluntary contribution charge is a yearly donation asked for by schools to help cover working costs. The money received by schools through the charge helps subsidise electricity, heating, and classroom learning and IT resources, as well as reading materials and school diaries.

According to the SVP report, published on May 30, as much as 87 per cent of parents have had to cut back or delay personal spending in order to pay school voluntary contribution charges.

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The report found that contributions range from €30 to €550 per child, with the average contribution charge throughout schools in Ireland currently standing at around €140 per child.

SVP’s study of over 1,400 families nationwide also found that more than 80 per cent of parents had also felt that it was not effectively communicated to them that the charge was optional.

According to Deputy Quinlivan, “many parents’ money cannot stretch that far and they are under real pressure. Every year I am contacted by families in Limerick who are deeply anxious about these spiralling costs.”

“This is particularly worrying this year as families are already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.

“It is clear that families are under huge pressure from school costs. The price of uniforms, tablets and devices, books, and transport can be crippling. On top of these, schools are asking families to often pay hundreds of euros in voluntary contributions as well.

“Let’s be clear, the reason why schools feel put in this position is because of the Government’s failure to invest in schools. The Government needs to ensure that schools have adequate funding, instead of expecting the buck to be passed on to parents when schools’ funding falls short

“Families in Limerick can’t be expected to keep waiting. They need help now,” Deputy Quinlivan concluded.