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Shops reach deal on school supplies

Hypermarkets pledge to offer budget back-to-school essentials - and financial support is available for many families

HYPERMARKETS have reached a deal to offer budget school supplies to families over the summer break, despite the rising cost of raw materials including paper.

The operation, called Les Essentiels de la Rentrée, will be renewed this year after several months of negotiations.

Most of the major supermarket and hypermarkets will take part, including Auchan, Carrefour, Casino and Système U, between July 18 and September 5.

During this period, the shops pledge to sell certain key items - such as exercise books, pens and pencils - at the lowest possible price. Look out for products with the "Essentiels de la Rentrée" logo.

The list has been drawn up by the education ministry and should represent the essential supplies that every pupil needs. It is the fifth year that the scheme has been running.

Retail federation FCD, which represents the big hypermarket chains, said there would be a "moderate" price rise this year - although exact figures have not yet been released.

A study by the association Familles de France last year found the average cost of kitting out a child for school was €175.

Most schools give out their own list of necessary equipment at the end of the summer term. The lists for each school should also be available shortly at www.scoleo.fr - where you can order them online.

Back-to-school benefits

Several million families are entitled to a payment from their local Caisse d'Allocations Familiales to help cover back-to-school costs.

To qualify for the allocation de rentrée scolaire, you must have at least one child born between September 16, 1993 and January 31, 2006.

Your household income in 2009 must not have exceeded €22,970 (for one child). The threshold increases by €5,301 for each additional child in the family.

If your income is slightly over the threshold you might still be eligible, but the size of the payment will be smaller.

The benefit pays out €284.97 for a child aged six to 10, rising to €300.66 for 11-14 year olds and €311.11 for those aged 15 to 18.

If you already receive benefit from the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales you do not need to do anything - the amount will be paid in August provided you have sent your 2009
income declaration to the CAF.

New applicants should download a PDF form from this link and send it back to your their local CAF office.

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