The cost of school uniforms has become so high that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has written to thousands of primary and secondary schools telling them to review their uniform policies.
The OFT has written to 29,500 state primary and secondary schools asking them to review their uniform policies as a growing number of families cannot afford to meet the requirements.
UK families could save tens of thousands of pounds if schools remove restrictions, according to the OFT.
A survey by the watchdog found that 74% of state schools continue to place restrictions on where certain school uniform items can be bought.
For example, the average price for a sweatshirt for a secondary school boy was £12 from a selected outlet of the schools choice, but is sold for £8 at competing retailers and £5 at supermarkets.
Some uniform items can only be purchased from certain retailers or suppliers chosen by the school or from the school shop with prices being significantly higher than if families were able to buy them freely without restriction.
Susan Oxley, Assistant Director in the OFT’s Goods and Consumer Group, said: “When schools require that uniforms are bought from a preferred supplier or shop it can act as a ‘tax’ on families, which mostly goes to the chosen retailers.
“However, when families are able to shop around for school uniform items it can drive competition and bring down prices for all.
“We know schools don’t want families to be left out of pocket and we have written to schools across the UK asking them to review their policies and supplier arrangements.”
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