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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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'Back to school' spending set to reach £736 million

Press release: 25/08/2011

  • Parents will spend an average of £77 per child on ‘back to school’ basics

  • 56% of parents feel under pressure to spend more than last year (total cost up £27 million on 2010)

  • Over half (53%) of all parents planning to buy ‘budget’ school uniforms and stationary

  • 31% are considering cutting back on extra curricular activities such as dance, music and sport lessons.

As families up and down the country prepare for the start of the new school year, the Cost of a Child study from protection specialist LV=, reveals parents are set to spend £736 million[1] on ‘back to school’ basics including uniforms, stationery, sportswear and school books. This equates an average family cost of £125 or £77 per child.

The ‘back to school’ costs rise to £81 per child for secondary school aged children, compared to £67 for junior school and £63 for infants. Parents living in Scotland spend the most preparing for their kids to go back to school at £89 per child with North West and Londoners not far behind, spending £88 and £86 per child respectively. The cheapest place to send children back to school is the East Midlands where parents spend £60 on average.

The total cost of ‘back to school’ spend has increased by £27 million over the last 12 months (£709 million in 2010). Over half (57%) of parents feel under more pressure this year to spend on back to school items.

Back to school spending breakdown
In terms of new purchases for their children going back to school this autumn, the table below shows the most popular items parents will buy this year and the average cost[2].


Percentage of parents planning to purchase

Typical cost per item in 2011**

Typical cost per item in 2010


School uniform










Sports kit





Haircut for child





School bag




Budget Britain
In order to reduce costs, over half of parents (53%) are considering using low cost suppliers for back to school items, such as supermarkets, to buy basics including uniforms and stationery, and nearly one in four (22%) are considering giving their kids second hand items, including hand-me-downs.

In addition, almost one in five (16%) say instead of travelling by car, their children may travel to school by foot or public transport to save money, and 16% are considering school dinners for their children if they work out cheaper than a packed lunch. In addition, almost a third (31%) of parents are planning to cut back on the amount of extra curricular activities they pay for such as ballet, music and sport lessons.

Mark Jones, LV= head of protection, said: “Parents are under a great deal of pressure to spend significant amounts on kitting their kids with the latest bags and coats, and brand new uniforms and stationery. Although we can see that parents are attempting to be frugal, these costs seem to keep going up.”

Cost of raising a child going up and up year on year
LV=’s annual Cost of a Child study, released earlier this year showed the cost of raising a child until their 21st birthday now totals more than £210,000[3]. This equates to £10,040 a year, £836 a month or £27.50 a day. The cost of raising a child is up 50% from LV=’s first Cost of a Child Report in 2003[2]. Education (not including private school fees) remains the second biggest expenditure behind childcare, costing parents £55,660 over a child’s lifetime. The report also found that parents were set to spend £8.6 billion over the summer break on childcare (£3.2 billion) and entertainment (£5.4 billion)[4]

Mark Jones continues: “At first glance spending £77 to send your child back to school may not seem excessive and preparing children for their return to school is such a small part of the expense of raising a family, but it’s easy for these costs to mount up. This is why it is important that parents try and look beyond the short term and ensure they have suitable budgets and long term financial plans in place.

Ensuring your family’s financial security against unexpected job loss, accident, or illness is more important than ever in the current climate. Protection doesn’t have to be expensive, and in many cases it could turn out to be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.”

Notes to editors
Research carried out online from 29 July – 1 August 2011 by Opinium research on behalf of LV=. Total sample size was 2,000 adults over the age of 18 years.

[1] Research carried out online from 29 July to 1 August 2011 by Opinium Research on behalf of LV=. Total sample size was 2,000 adults over the age of 18 years, with 391 of those respondents with children aged between 5 and 16.
£736m being spent on children going back to schools is calculated by taking into account the number of people sharing the responsibility of purchasing the items.
1.69m parents will spend £123 themselves on back to school costs (single parents) = £207.53m
7.53m parents will spend £125 with their partner on back to school costs = £940.06m / 2 (per parent) = £470.03m
0.46m parents will spend £126 from other sources = £58.07m
Total = £736m

[2] Average costs sourced from pricings at Marks & Spencer, Supercuts, Amazon, and Timpsons

[3] The cost of a child calculations, from birth to 21 years, have been compiled by the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR) for LV= in January 2011 and are based on the cost for the 21 year period to December 2010. The report also includes omnibus research conducted for LV= by Opinium Research from 25-28 January 2011. The total sample size was 527 parents of children under the age of 18. Results have been weighted to a nationally representative criteria.

[4] Research carried out online from 25 – 28 March 2011 by Opinium Research on behalf of LV=. Total sample size was 2017 adults over the age of 18 years, with 553 of those respondents with children aged between 0 and 18.

About LV=

LV= employs over 4500 people and serves over four million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.