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Article date - 28 April 2017
With savings of £7.4m needed to be made for the 2017/18 financial year, St Helens Council’s cabinet has agreed to end the discretionary school allowance scheme.
As a local authority, St Helens Council has no statutory duty to provide support towards the cost of purchasing a school uniform, but has done so for over 20 years, while most neighbouring authorities have already ended this arrangement.
Proposals set out in the cabinet report included plans to encourage schools to set a low cost and easy available uniform policy. However, in special circumstances, continued support will be made available to vulnerable families experiencing exceptional financial hardship through a revised Discretionary Assistance Scheme, if all other options for accessing a uniform have been exhausted.
The change will come into effect from 1 May, 2017, impacting the September 2017 academic year, and will result in a budgetary contribution of £255k towards the £1.838m loss of Education Services Grant (ESG) funding which ceases in September 2017.
The council will work with uniform providers, schools and their governing bodies, to inform parents and guardians of the alternative suppliers of uniforms available - and provide support to enable them to devise strategies to effectively and sensitively manage any issues that may arise.