SCHOOLS will be told to help struggling parents by taking steps to keep down the cost of school uniforms and PE kits.

Bury Council is launch a consultation with schools across the borough over new guidance on the price of uniforms and ‘extras’ in a bid to take the pressure off hard-pressed families.

The move comes after town hall chiefs unanimously voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat motion to take action on the issue at a meeting of the full council.

However, a proposal to publish an annual list of which schools are meeting the new guidance was removed from the motion, to the disappointment of the Liberal Democrat group, who felt this was “watering down” the proposal.

Instead, it will be left to school ‘clusters’ to monitor and “take responsibility for themselves becoming inclusive".

The motion was moved by Cllr Mary D’Albert at a full meeting of Bury Council at the town hall.

Addressing members Cllr D’Albert said she had recently spoken to low-income parents who had spent more than £250 on uniforms for the new school term.

She added: “Some people would say ‘why not save or forego holidays'. But if you come from a lower income family there is not any spare money. To put more money away for something like this, it would have to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere else would probably be day to day living expenses, like food bills.”

The motion was welcomed by Tory group leader Cllr James Daly said he had recently learned that a friend's daughter had spent more than £300 kitting out her children for Elton High School.

He said:"There was simply no way, not a chance that she could afford to buy the uniform that was standard for Elton High School. This isn't a criticism of Elton High School or anywhere else, it's just a fact of where we are."

Labour backed the motion but its amendment was carried after Cllr Rhys Cathcart said the group wanted to avoid a "carrot and stick" approach.

The news that the council was to take action on school uniforms was welcomed by parents on Bury Times Facebook page.

Helen Scholes said she had spent nearly £500 kitting out her three children for the new school year.

She said: “It’s a ridiculous amount of money to spend on uniforms each year never mind having to clothe the kids with different outfits and shoes for the hot or cold weather. I hope uniform prices come down but I’m probably dreaming.”

But Elton High School headteacher Jonathan Wilton, defended the pricing of his school’s new uniform, which had not been changed since the mid-80s.

He said: "We ensured that that parents and carers were given over 12 months notice before the uniform was introduced.

“We then gave regular updates and reminders highlighting the discount offered by our providers during the summer months, so as to keep the costs down.”