“Two million children in England have been sent to school in dirty, ill-fitting or incorrect uniform, a children’s charity has said.
A Mirror probe has uncovered a surge in cash-strapped families who rely on handouts from uniform banks for school kit, including basic essentials such as coats, shoes and even underwear.
Figures last month revealed 4.1 million children are in living in poverty and 70% of those are in working families.
An estimated 13% of UK children live in families who are getting into debt to pay for school kit, with 17% cutting back on basic essentials, including food, to dress children for school, according to Children’s Society research.
In response, dozens of uniform banks and exchanges have been set up across Britain.
Sam Royston, of the Children’s Society, said: “These community groups… are clearly in high demand, but it is distressing so many families are getting to this point in the first place.”
Kate France founded the Uniform Exchange, in Kirklees, West Yorks, which provides kit for pupils at 181 schools.
Requests have surged from 600 in 2017 to 800 last year.
This year they are on track to clothe 1,200 children.
Kate said: “We have seen a huge growth. I have also seen a rise in underwear requests from families who need socks, tights, pants and vests.
“I can’t believe that families haven’t got the basics – I find it really sad.”
Nicola Roderick, 25, of Holmfirth, who uses the Exchange, said: “Spending £20 for a jumper is hard when your disposable income is very little…”
A Government spokesperson said: “We’re helping parents to move into full-time work to give families the best opportunity to move out of poverty.
“Meanwhile we have made clear to schools that when setting uniform policies they should keep costs to a minimum and be mindful that they are affordable for everyone.”