Wednesday, 27 July 2016

STAY POSITIVE POST BREXIT, SCHOOLWEAR ASSOCIATION CHAIR ADVISES MEMBERS

Be brave and positive. That was the message of our Chair David Burgess to executive members meeting in Manchester.

"It's a scarier world post Brexit but we all have to be brave and remain positive," he said. "We have a new Prime Minister, of course, and a new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, who has sensibly said that she is going to look at the strategies her department currently has in place before she changes anything."

He said: "Whenever there is a big change, there are lots of opportunities, and that is what we have to look at. There are downsides, such as the exchange rate that will mean prices rise but as the Governor of the Bank of England has said, there is not enough information about what will happen post Brexit to make a sensible decision about the future. There are a lot of possibilities. As an industry, we have to make sure we do a great job this year, to make sure we deliver in retail and manufacture and all areas. There are all the signs that it will be a good back to school period this year, and we have to make sure we deliver quality and value to parents. We know from a Department for Education survey that eight out of ten parents are satisfied with the arrangements for uniform at their children’s schools, and we must all work to ensure that continues."

Our public affairs lead, Matthew Easter, said Brexit was likely to delay the implementation of a Treasury bill that would see the government guidelines for schools on specifying uniform become law. In discussions with the Department for Education before the referendum, he learned that they were awaiting a Parliamentary slot to begin the process that would be the Autumn at the earliest before that happened.

"Post Brexit, the chances of getting a slot are diminished because of additional legislation that will now be necessary," he forecast. The fact that the uniform legislation was part of a bigger Treasury package of measures covering insurance, banking and mobile phone charges meant it would be subject to lobbying from a large number of affected industries which would likely further delay the process.

Another complication was that the legislation could be affected by EU law which might no longer be applicable after Britain formally leaves.

Executive member Donald Moore forecasts that price rises as a result of the falling value of the pound would not be passed on wholly by suppliers to retailers, and that retailers would not pass on all of their increased costs to customers, shielding consumers from the full effect. That is what happened after the 2008 crash, he said, leading to lean times for the industry. "You won't see a 20 per cent price rise in store just because the pound is 20 per cent weaker against the dollar," he added.


Meanwhile, we are planning talks with associations representing head teachers and governors to put the case for good quality, good value, school-specific uniform and its benefits in improved learning, better behaviour and child safety.

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