LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters has claimed a victory for parents and pupils across Llanelli and Carmarthenshire.
Following feedback from concerned parents, Lee Waters AM has secured a commitment from Carmarthenshire County Council to review how it helps parents fund the cost of “back to school” through the Pupil Development Grant (Access).
The grant, funded by the Welsh Government, is available to parents as their children enter reception class, secondary school, or begin their GCSEs. It helps with the cost of uniforms and other school supplies. Carmarthenshire Council had been paying the grant retrospectively, with parents having to submit receipts for items purchased.
A number of residents told Lee Waters AM that this had created problems for parents grappling with the high cost of “back to school” alongside other household bills. Most other counties in Wales pay the grant up front to parents, making it easier for those with little disposable income to claim. In correspondence with Lee Waters, the Local Authority have said they will be looking to learn from neighbouring Councils.
Lee Waters AM said
“This is a real win for parents in and around Llanelli. The cost of school uniform and equipment can be really high, especially for families who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
“I was worried when I heard that Carmarthenshire only paid the grant retrospectively. When Welsh Government decided to fund the grant, we wanted to help families. But expecting families to pay the cost upfront and get paid back later only makes it harder, especially for those most in need.”
“I’m really pleased that the Council have agreed to review their policy, and hopefully we can avoid this situation in the future and make sure we’re able to help anyone who needs it.”
Until the process is reviewed, Carmarthenshire Council can purchase items on parents behalf on application and also allow the submission of multiple claims to help parents spread the cost.