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Parents Asking Winz To Meet School Costs

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Ogilvy: Huge rise in parents asking Winz to meet school costs

Free education is a myth, United Future's Bernie Ogilvy said today in revealing that families are increasingly turning to Winz to pay schooling costs, with such grants and loans up from $2.9 million to $4.6 million in the past five years.

"That's a 58 percent increase since Labour took office," Mr Ogilvy said, citing Social Development Ministry figures obtained under parliamentary questioning.

"You really have to ask whether this Government has any idea just how much pressure some families are under financially to do something as basic as educating their children," he said.

The actual number of grants and loans is up 42 percent, from 22,288 to 31,556 in the same five-year period to October this year.

Although the bulk of money goes towards school uniforms and stationery costs, Mr Ogilvy said he was particularly concerned at the growing number of claims for assistance with school fees.

"Education Minister Trevor Mallard has claimed that voluntary school fees are not essential to the running of schools and are there to pay for extras.

"Yet money granted or loaned by Winz for these 'donations' has more than doubled, from $54,474 in 1999 to $118,136 this year," he said.

"These figures simply confirm what parents have been telling the Government for some time - free education is a myth. Not only that, but families are actually getting into debt with Winz to pay for their kids' schooling."

Mr Ogilvy said the issue would put pressure on families again immediately after Christmas.

"The new school year will bring yet another round of bills for school uniforms, stationery and fees. And the Government will keep pretending we have free education in New Zealand."

ENDS

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