Inflation and new school year: "You have to ask for all the aid, the prices are scary"

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) shot up its interannual rate by 1.5 points, to 10.2% and it is its highest level since April 1985, according to data for June advanced by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Inflation picks up and continues to be an economic determining factor for families who, after the summer holidays, have to think about the usual extra expenses coinciding with the new school year.

Is inflation already having an impact on school spending for the new course? The delegate of the Organization of Users and Consumers (OCU) in Castilla-La Mancha, Itziar Fernández, comments that it is still "early" to be sure. "Massive purchases are left for later and are paid at the end. We may not know until September, but I can tell you that I already have the invoice, 300 euros, and it is for the first-year Primary school books."

As a starting point, at the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year, the average expenditure per student was 1,890 euros, according to this organization. In Castilla-La Mancha that figure was 1,181 euros. "It is inferior because here the rents and salaries are also lower", clarifies the delegate of the OCU.

Precisely, on July 6 UGT and CCOO Castilla-La Mancha will demand salary improvements before the headquarters of business organizations, with concentrations in the five provincial capitals of the region. They will claim the need to safeguard the purchasing power of the working population, increasing wages so that families can face the inflationary spiral and will denounce that "companies are transferring the increase in costs, derived from the increase in the price of their raw materials – especially energy - at the final price paid by consumers, making the shopping basket more expensive in a general way and causing a new devaluation of wages," both unions point out.

Last Saturday, President Pedro Sánchez announced several anti-crisis measures which include the reduction of transport passes and aid of 200 euros to vulnerable families. "We are going to see what happens in these months because we are not going to notice its effect in the short term. Now we do not think about it because we have charged the extra and we are going on vacation, but September is just around the corner and threatening spending, not only the school", Itziar Fernández recalls, to refer to the shopping basket or fuel. "The aid will not be a panacea, but we must ask for all of it to mitigate the brutal rise in prices that are frightening."

As far as it seems that there will be no changes is in the textbooks. Despite the entry into force of the LOMLOE, bookstores and other providers -such as educational centers themselves- are serving the same texts as last school year. "There is no modification yet, last year's books will continue to be sold. The publishers have not had room to adapt the books and the families also have to have their own so that the expense is not disproportionate and it does not have to be all in the last minute", explains the OCU delegate in Castilla-La Mancha.

It will be less of a headache (perhaps) for families that, predictably, will be transferred to the teaching staff since the new law includes a modification of the curriculum: the subjects and their contents change, although to know the details we have to wait for the communities The autonomous authorities publish the corresponding decrees for the development of state regulations.

The Minister of Education, Culture and Sports of Castilla-La Mancha assured this Wednesday that the autonomous community will be "one of the first" to publish said decrees. It will predictably do so in the first fortnight of July.

On June 23, the deadline to apply for textbook and school canteen aid for the 2022-2023 academic year was opened. It will be open until July 14. Rosa Ana Rodríguez explained that the main novelties of this call lie in the textbook section because both the aid and the amount have been increased "in order to make it easier for families to purchase new materials derived from the implementation of the LOMLOE" .

The grants are directly awarded to students in Compulsory Primary and Secondary Education and school canteen aid to students in the second cycle of Early Childhood Education and Primary Education. They must be requested through the EducamosCLM Platform.

The Government of Castilla-La Mancha plans to award 94,690 scholarships, of which 73,799 will be for textbooks and 20,891 for school canteens. As usual, school canteen scholarships will be 50 percent or one hundred percent and will be granted according to family income. For its part, those of textbooks will be organized according to two sections, also established according to family income.

This year the decree on aid for books has been modified due to the LOMLOE implementation calendar, which includes changes in the curriculum and changes in the curricular materials of 1st, 3rd and 5th years of Primary Education and 1st and 3rd years of Secondary Education (in the 2023-2024 academic year the changes will affect 2nd, 4th and 6th years of Primary Education and 2nd and 4th years of Secondary Education).

"This circumstance, apart from the higher cost in aid for students for the use of textbooks, implied a significant additional cost for families who had not had aid these years", explains Education, hence not only wanting to increase the number of beneficiary families but that the amount of aid will grow by an average of 10%. This also implies that the income thresholds increase by an average of 30 percent over the previously established threshold.

"You have to ask for them," encourages Itziar Fernández. "More families will enter both partial and total aid. Nothing is lost by requesting it." In addition, the OCU suggests "reusing or exchanging books and materials to minimize spending and promote the circular economy.

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