EAST Runcorn MP Mike Amesbury hailed today ‘a significant day’ as his efforts to reduce the cost of school uniforms achieved an important milestone.

The Department for Education (DfE) has today (November 19) published legally-binding guidance to schools aimed at making uniforms more affordable.

The School Uniform Bill was introduced by Mr Amesbury, who represents Weaver Vale, and passed by Parliament in April this year with cross-party support.

Under the guidance, schools in England must ensure that uniform costs are reasonable, and parents get the best value for money.

Research from the DfE in 2015 showed that parents can save almost £50 on average if they can buy all school uniform items from any store, compared to uniform which all needs to be bought from a designated shop or school.

From next autumn, schools will be required to help keep costs down by taking steps to remove unnecessary branded items and allowing more high-street options, like supermarket own-brand uniform. Schools will have to make sure second-hand uniforms are available.

Mr Amesbury said: “Today is a significant day with the publication of the statutory guidance.

"It’s significant for the hundreds of thousands of children, families, parents, grandparents and carers that will benefit from the provisions outlined in the Act, which will ultimately bring the cost of school uniforms down."

According to the guidance, schools should make sure their uniform policy is published on their website and is clear and easy for parents to understand.

The new guidance also requires schools to use competitive and transparent contracts with suppliers.

Mark Russell, chief executive of The Children’s Society, added: “Until now, too many parents have had to fork out for expensive branded items rather than cheaper alternatives, while having to cut back on essentials like food or heating.

"So we hope schools are able to start working with the guidance, which should ultimately make it much easier for families to kit out their children for school without breaking the bank.”