Appalled by lack of support and confusion

Liz Plante is appalled by the lack of support she has received for meeting uniform expenses.

The mother-of-two, who claims income support, has spent pound;200 on her children's secondary school uniform in the past year.

The school, in the West Midlands, requires that pupils own a pound;35 blazer and a reversible rugby shirt worth pound;22. Last year Miss Plante claimed a pound;30 grant from education welfare and found a second-hand blazer for her 12-year-old son. He has been teased by classmates for wearing it.

This year Miss Plante made another request to education welfare, this time for help with her daughter's uniform. She was told that the school had taken on responsibility for distributing the uniform grant - but when she approached the school it directed her to the local authority.

Miss Plante, 40, said: "Neither education welfare nor the school knew where the money was. I was appalled.

"The system is a mess. It might be better to give the money to benefit agencies which can target people through income support."

Miss Plante has now received pound;30 towards the cost of her daughter's uniform but is under pressure to purchase scientific calculators and language dictionaries for both children.

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