Schoolwear suppliers have warned Labour that proposed limits on branded school uniforms would damage businesses and not save money for families in the long run.

The Labour Party’s manifesto, published ahead of the General Election on 4 July, has pledged to “bring down the cost of school by limiting the number of branded items of uniform and PE kit that schools can require”.

However, the Schoolwear Association said limits would lead to families buying cheaper, poor-quality clothing on a more regular basis and put many specialist small businesses at risk.

Matthew Easter, chair of the Schoolwear Association, said: “The school uniform industry is largely made up of small family-run high-street businesses who have often worked with local schools in their community for generations.

“Placing an arbitrary limit on uniform items would put the majority of these businesses at risk – simply shifting sales to the big supermarkets instead.

“Decreasing the number of branded items would also have little impact on costs for families. Our 2024 annual survey of school uniform costs – representing 10% of all secondary-school pupils in England – revealed that the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniform and sportswear items is £92.35.

“Crucially, this reflects a drop in real terms of 25% since the ‘cost of school uniforms’ statutory guidance was introduced by the Department for Education in Autumn 2021.

“A shift away from higher-quality branded items will mean families will be left replacing cheaper, poor-quality uniform garments on a more regular basis – creating a world of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ for children able to afford expensive brands for their blazer and sportswear, and those unable to do so.

“Schools should be trusted to make the right choice for their school community, not be left forced to level down against their will.”