Schools urged to take action and end ‘monopoly’ on uniform supply - The Evesham Observer

Schools urged to take action and end ‘monopoly’ on uniform supply

Evesham Editorial 1st Sep, 2017 Updated: 2nd Sep, 2017   0

A CONCERNED councillor has called for Evesham’s schools to end the ‘monopoly’ on the supply of uniforms and urged the Government to force schools to offer a choice of supplier for parents.

As pupils head back to school next week, Coun Mark Goodge has spoken to the Observer and raised concerns town parents have once again only been able to buy their child’s uniform from one shop in the town.

For more than 15 years the School Shop in Evesham has been supplying uniforms for 30 schools across the Vale. However, of that they only exclusively supply the uniform to about six schools.

It is up to schools to decide how many shops can supply their distinctive uniform items including ties, PE kits and embroidered blazers.

But the dad of two believes the situation in Evesham has led to a ‘monopoly’ leaving parents with no choice and could force them to pay higher prices.

“I’m concerned about the fact that we still only have a single, monopoly supplier for most school uniform items in Evesham,” he said.

“Other people have also expressed their concerns on Facebook about difficulties obtaining items of uniform this term, and I’ve also been contacted separately by local residents and parents with similar concerns.

“I want to stress that this isn’t necessarily an issue with the shop which currently has the monopoly. “No shop is perfect, and we accept that there will always be some items that are out of stock or mistakes made in fulfilling orders.

“But that’s precisely why it’s important that there isn’t a monopoly on school uniform supplies.

The issue of a single supplier for school uniforms was highlighted by a report from the Office of Fair Trading in 2012 which found the appointment of exclusive suppliers can increase the cost of each uniform item by £5 to £10.

This lead to the Competition and Markets Authority back in 2015 sending a letter to headteachers across the UK calling on them to open up supplies of their uniforms to more shops.

“Schools need to be more responsive to the concerns of parents when it comes to the cost and availability of uniforms,” said Coun Goodge.

“If schools aren’t willing to accept the recommendations of the OFT and the CMA, then maybe we need legislation to force them to offer a choice of suppliers.

In response, David Bugg from The School Shop said: “The schools do continually look at it and we have a meeting every September or October.

“There’s no suggestion whatsoever that we automatically keep the business. I have to stake my case for it.”

“The schools are very conscious of the cost of uniforms. They all have some sort of funding for parents who are in real difficulty.”

What do you think? Write to the editor via e-mail [email protected] with your views.

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