Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood used this week's First Minister's Questions to condemn the Labour Welsh Government's decision to cut the school uniform grant - a move that will affect thousands of families.
During First Minister's Questions on Tuesday, Leanne Wood said:
“While the Assembly was in recess - and at the same time as your flagship anti-poverty programme was disbanded, we heard that you intended to cut the school uniform grant to a tune of £700,000 – which is a small amount of money in the scheme of things and through it thousands of some of the poorest families in Wales receive vital support and access to education.
Your decision to cut this grant is petty.
What assessment have you made on impact of the cut on child poverty? Will you write to school heads to ask them to allow pupils to wear non-logoed uniform items in order to try and mitigate some of the impact of this cut to the school uniform grant?”
Llyr Huws Gruffydd AM, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, also called on the First Minister to confirm that there would be finance available for school uniforms following the introduction of an ‘improved grant’ in September.
“The Welsh Government had previously stated that the cut in the grant was down to the decreasing cost of school uniforms but I know from my own experience that this is not true. School uniforms are also often only obtainable through specific suppliers and not supermarkets.
We need immediate assurance that there will not be a reduction in the grant available specifically to facilitate the buying of school uniforms.”
Speaking after the First Minister’s Questions Leanne Wood AM said,
“Despite child poverty increasing, many schools continue to implement school uniform policies that often require expensive branded clothes or specific kits or items of clothing. This is now being made worse by the abolition of the school uniform grant.
“The First Minister claimed in his answers today that the support for school uniforms would improve, yet he was unable to answer if any extra money would be available nor provide any clarity. It was also a different reason given at the time, when it was claimed that the costs of school uniform had decreased.
If they intend to remove this support from some of the poorest families in the country, this Labour government ought to be ashamed. Plaid Cymru will fight them all the way.”
The suggestions follows a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that estimates there could be 50,000 more Welsh children in poverty by 2021. The Welsh Government had previously admitted that their target to end child poverty in Wales by 2020 cannot be achieved.