PLANS to scrap a high school uniform grant for vulnerable families in and around Wrexham have taken a step forward.

A grant of £35 is paid by Wrexham Council to parents of years seven to 11 children who meet certain means-tested criteria.

Parents of year seven children in their first year at secondary school also claim a £105 grant from the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG). Last night members of the children and young people scrutiny committee backed a plan to make the grant available only to children in years eight to 11 from 2011-12, with the exception of registered young carers in year seven.

Year seven parents and carers will still be able to take advantage of the WAG £105 grant.

The authority is expected to save about £7,000 per year if proposal is accepted.
Pant councillor Arwel Gwynn Jones proposed to scrap the grant to pupils of all ages and said vulnerable families could help themselves.

He told the Guildhall meeting: “A child has got to be clothed and we understand that, but even families on low income can clothe their children.

“I can’t see any point quite honestly in going through the whole process.

“It means a lot of work and lots of administration, on top of everything else.

“I would propose that we scrap it altogether. People can look after their children whatever their income is.”

John Davies, the council’s head of lifelong learning, said to scrap the scheme for all pupils from years seven to 11 would save the authority about £35,000 a year
Cllr Jones added: “That £35,000 is a salary of one teacher and I think that is needed more.

“An extra teacher could really make things better.”

Mr Davies said Wrexham Council was one of four authorities in Wales that continued to fund the grant, adding: “Here in Wrexham we are a bit behind other authorities in Wales.

“The purpose is to bring us in line with neighbouring authorities.

“It’s a time of austerity and everyone is cutting back.”

Mr Davies said the £35 was presented to families in voucher form but the council had no system in place to ensure it was spent correctly.

Committee chairman Cllr Jim Kelly suggested the current system remain the same. “I’m not happy taking this £35 off vulnerable people,” he said

But a majority of councillors voted to take the amended school uniform grant policy to the executive board for approval.