Regulator fires shots over school uniform costs

school kids The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have hit out at schools and uniform suppliers, saying that they better be giving decent value for money, or else. In their open letter, the watchdog said it was particularly concerned by exclusive uniform contracts, which they think forces families in England to cough-up in advance of £10 per item.

The CMA have strongly advised school governing boards to review their arrangements, in a bid to "ensure there is competition between suppliers and retailers", adding that potential competitors should complain if they discover that they are being blocked by exclusivity deals.

Now, some schools have defended these exclusive deals, because they think that it ensures that students get a standard uniform, at a standard quality. However, some parents who have been stung by this won't have much sympathy for the school's views.

For some hard figures, a Government report worked out that the average annual cost of a uniform, per child, is just over £212. Previous investigations have shown that 74% of state schools in England have restrictions on where uniforms can be bought.

The CMA's senior director, Ann Pope, said: "Buying school uniforms can be very expensive and particularly hits low income families and those with a number of children, so it is important parents and carers are able to shop around. We urge everyone involved to ensure that they are providing a good service to parents and carers and complying with Department for Education guidance."

"We will continue monitoring the sector and will consider taking enforcement action, if it is necessary."

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