It’s an expensive business, bringing up a family. For most people, raising kids into adults is the single most important – and single most expensive – thing they’ll ever do in their lives. Until now, the rules around keeping school uniform costs reasonable haven’t really had any teeth to them. Now, however, a new law has come in that ought to change things.

As of the 30th of April, the old (and often ignored) “non-statutory guidance” about uniform costs has been replaced by The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill. It’s a move that’s likely to be pretty popular with hard-working UK parents, and could end up saving them hundreds of pounds kitting out their kids for school. It’s going to take 2 months for the bill to come into force in full, but it’s already passed the “Royal Assent” stage, meaning it’s fully part of UK law now.

On average, it costs about £337 to put a uniform on a secondary school pupil, and it’s been tough to bring that cost down. Schools often insist on expensive branded gear you can only get from specific suppliers. Even primary schools can run you an average of £315 for a uniform, and kids grow fast so if you’ve got a few on the go you could be looking at thousands of pounds.

What does the new school uniform law mean in real terms?

Well, for starters it means that school uniforms need to be kept affordable. The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, will lay out exactly what guidance schools have to follow. The basics, though, are that costs need to be kept under control, uniforms need to be easy to buy and expensive branded stuff needs to be kept to a minimum.

If it all works out according to plan, you ought to be able to pick up most of what your kids need at the local supermarket, instead of going through expensive contracted suppliers. Schools are going to have to prove that they’re getting top value for money from any suppliers they do still use, as well.

Will there be help with school uniform costs?

Obviously, runaway school uniform prices hit lower income families the hardest, and rocket up according to how many kids you’re raising.

Depending on your circumstances, you might qualify for a little extra help from the School Uniform Grant scheme. If you’re eligible (usually meaning you’re on certain benefits or a low income), you could get £100 or more per child to help with uniform bills.

It’s not an automatic right, though (unless you’re in Scotland), so you’ll need to check with your local authority to see if you’ve got a claim.

Cover costs with a tax refund

Of course, the big claim you need to be making each year is the tax refund you’re owed for your work travel and expenses. Getting back what HMRC owes you now would see you in a much stronger position when the kids need kitting out for school after the summer holidays.

Remember, while we’re flexing our expertise to keep the taxman honest for you, RIFT Tax Refunds can also help with other family finance boosts like your Marriage Allowance. If you or your partner isn’t getting full use out of your tax-free Personal Allowance, you can trade up to £1,260 of it between you so you end up paying less tax overall. We can handle the paperwork for this when we sort out your refund – at no extra charge! It’s all part of the RIFT Tax Refund service.

Bringing up a family is tough enough without losing out on your tax refunds as well. Get in touch to see what we can do to help, and keep checking back here for more news, tips and updates from the RIFT team.

RIFT are the UK's leading tax rebate experts. Use our mileage calculator for an instant estimate of how much you could be owed back on your travel.