Back-to-school technology costs have surged, survey finds

Some 77% of parents have worried about the cost of putting their children through school, MoneySuperMarket said.

Vicky Shaw
Friday 06 August 2021 08:21
Parents face spending more than £4,000 on technology and similar sums on pocket money, packed lunches and uniforms by the time their children reach the age of 16, according to MoneySuperMarket (Ben Birchall/PA)
Parents face spending more than £4,000 on technology and similar sums on pocket money, packed lunches and uniforms by the time their children reach the age of 16, according to MoneySuperMarket (Ben Birchall/PA)

Parents face spending more than £4,000 on technology – and similar sums on pocket money, packed lunches and uniforms – by the time their children reach the age of 16, research has found.

As families prepare for the new school year, MoneySuperMarket’s findings suggest technology costs have more than doubled over the past two years.

Many parents have relied heavily on technology during the coronavirus lockdowns to help educate their children.

Technology was found to cost parents an average of £232 per child annually – more than double the typical cost of £102 in 2019.

Pocket money (£226.90) and packed lunches (£223.30) were found to be the second and third most expensive outgoings.

MoneySuperMarket calculated that, based on the average family having 1.7 children, families typically face forking out around £4,340 on tech by the time their children reach 16 years old.

Over the same period, they face paying £4,243 on pocket money, £4,157 on packed lunches and £4,104 on uniforms, according to the findings.

Everyone wants their kids to have the best possible time at school, so it's easy to see how costs can mount up

Sasha Evans, MoneySuperMarket

The research, based on a survey of 2,000 parents of school-age children, also found 77% of parents have worried about the cost of putting their youngsters through school, while more than a fifth (22%) admit to regularly worrying about it.

Despite many parents having saved money over the past 18 months, around a quarter (27%) of those who have managed to put money aside feel anxious about affording the forthcoming school year.

Parents estimate they typically saved £117 on school trips, £111 on extra-curricular activities and £108 on wraparound care during lockdowns.

Nearly a fifth (17%) of parents said they felt under pressure to buy expensive technology during the pandemic.

When financing school purchases, if they have not been able to afford a school item, 24% of parents have chosen to pay with a credit card.

Dipping into savings (21%) and asking for a helping hand from family and friends (18%) were the next most popular alternatives. More than one in 10 (12%) had used a buy now, pay later scheme.

Sasha Evans, a money expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Everyone wants their kids to have the best possible time at school, so it’s easy to see how costs can mount up – particularly as education becomes more reliant on tech.

“With funding education causing a lot of Brits stress, it’s important to remember there are ways to control costs.

“There’s a whole range of measures you can take, from buying second-hand to making use of discount voucher codes, shopping for back-to-school essentials from supermarkets, car-sharing and even walking the school run.”

Here are the average yearly costs per child of items, followed by the average cost for families over 11 years until children reach 16, based on households containing 1.7 children on average, according to MoneySuperMarket:

– Technology, £232.10, £4,340.27

– Pocket money, £226.90, £4,243.03

– Packed lunches, £222.30, £4,157.01

Uniform £219.50, £4,104.65

– Extracurricular activities, £211.80, £3,960.66

– Lunch money, £209.50, £3,917.65

– Social activities, £205.00, £3,833.50

– After-school clubs and wraparound care, £196.50, £3,665.20

– School trips, £194.40, £3,635.28

– Transport, £180.20, £3,369.74