Most British parents have to endure the horrors of shopping for school uniform, whether its in a high street shop, via the school’s own shop, or even online, and the necessity to purchase ‘branded’ items can be expensive, especially if they have taller or larger than average children, because only school uniform items that are sized for age fourteen and under are VAT exempt. This means that for most parents, there are at least two years, and in many cases, nearer six years, when they have to pay full Value Added Tax on items that are only used at school, such as PE kit or school jumpers.
The School wear Association is campaigning to change the law, so that parents can pay only 5% VAT on all school-specific items, rather than the zero VAT on school-specific clothing up to age fourteen and the current 17.5% charged on clothes aged fourteen and up. An early day motion is to be proposed by Nigel Evans MP and it has the support of MPs across party boundaries. In the meantime, an increasing number of schools are turning to wholesalers who can produce small (under fifty) quantities of school branded wear in larger sizes in an attempt to stave off parent criticism of the high price of uniforms and the limited range of outlets that are enabled to sell school specific clothing.