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Pupils ‘going hungry’ as school costs hit poorest children hardest

Children and young people are ‘going hungry’ at school, according to the Children’s Commissioner.

Professor Sally Holland says children’s basic needs aren’t being met, with families struggling to afford school uniform, equipment and sanitary products.

School day costs are the most common financial concerns raised by parents and young people – this included the cost of equipment, school dinners, school trips, and other one-off costs like school photos and fancy dress events.

The report by the Commissioner reveals children are left with a poorer quality of life and unable to socialise because of it.

She is calling on the Welsh Government to publish a new ‘Child Poverty Delivery Plan’ setting out how financial hardship faced by families will be addressed:

It’s clear that the basic needs of many aren’t being met. Children and young people have told us that they go hungry at school, that their families struggle to afford the uniform and equipment they need for school, that they can’t afford sanitary products, that they miss out on opportunities to socialise and take part in activities, and that they have a poorer quality of life, well-being and self-image.

Financial demands are flying at families from all sorts of angles and it’s the children who pay the price when their parents can’t keep up with the costs.

If we’re serious about levelling the playing field and giving all children an equal opportunity to learn and grow, we need Welsh Government to show real ambition and leadership in helping the thousands of families across Wales who are really struggling.

– PROF SALLY HOLLAND, CHILDREN’S COMMISSIONER FOR WALES

The Welsh Government’s Child Poverty Strategy was last revised in 2015 which sets out Government’s current long-term objectives.

The report calls for more children to be made eligible for free school meals and access to Holiday Hunger schemes, as well as ensuring more families are eligible for a grant to spend on school costs.

The Welsh Government says extra funding is being provided to tackle the problem:

We welcome the latest report from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. Work is already well underway to address the recommendations made, with additional funding for our PDG access fund, revised school uniform guidance, and an updated approach to FSM.

This report will help ensure that our programmes are having maximum impact in tackling child poverty and fully meet the needs of those who rely upon them.

– WELSH GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

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