THOUSANDS of hard-pressed families across the UK could be in line for up to £200 towards the cost of their children's school uniform.
Some local councils across the UK offer school clothing grants to households who might not be able to afford it.
But depending on which country you live in, be that England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you may or may not be in line for a payment.
The amount you receive, when you have to apply, and which children are in line for the payment will change depending on which area you live in.
It comes amidst the cost of living crisis, which is seeing some families left in dire financial situations and struggling to pay their bills.
What is a school clothing grant?
Under the Education Act 1990, local authorities have the power to provide financial help to parents on low incomes to assist them with buying school clothing for their children.
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But this is not a statutory duty in England.
This means parents face a postcode lottery – as each council chooses whether to offer support, who is eligible and what items they will pay for.
The system is different in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where councils are required to offer assistance.
Who is eligible for financial help?
The grants are typically available for people on benefits such as Universal Credit, Jobseeker's allowance and child tax credits.
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Children who qualify for free school meals will usually also qualify for uniform help – as long as it’s offered by your council.
In some cases, financial support will depend on your child’s age or what type of school they are attending.
What do I get if I live in England?
In England, not every council offers the school uniform grant.
Your best bet to find out if your local authority does is by using the government's finder tool.
If your local council doesn't offer any support, you can always ask your child’s school directly.
The Sun approached 148 councils in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and 52 responded.
The amount they are offering rangedfrom £62 to £150.
One of the councils offering £150 is Greenwich Borough Council, in London, and you will get a grant if you currently receive a qualifying benefit.
A qualifying benefit is something such as an income-related employment and support allowance, income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance or state pension credit.
In addition, to be eligible, your child must attend a "council maintained school". This is a school managed by Greenwich Council.
What your child is entitled to will depend on their age.
You can apply for a grant on Greenwich Council's website.
The deadline to apply for a grant in England will vary depending on the council, so it's best to check out your local authority's website.
What do I get if I live in Wales?
In Wales, the "Pupil Development Grant" is funded by government and then allocated by local councils.
Pupils currently eligible for free school meals can apply for the grant of £125 per pupil, and upto £200 for students entering Year 7.
Families who are eligible for free school meals can submit a claim if they have a child in:
- primary school from reception to Year 6
- secondary school from Year 7 to 11.
Families are only entitled to claim once per child, per school year.
All "looked after" children qualify for the grant, whether they receive free school meals or not.
A looked after child or young person is someone who is being cared for by their local authority.
The Welsh government's website said funding for the 2022/23 academic year would open in the summer and to apply for the grant you must contact your local authority.
Meanwhile, funding for the 2021 to 2022 scheme will close on June 30.
What do I get if I live in Northern Ireland?
In Northern Ireland, likewise, the funding comes centrally, from the Education Authority.
The grants you are entitled to will depend on your child's age and what type of school they attend – but the maximum you could get is £78.
You will be eligible for one of the grants if you receive of one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit
The application process for the 2022/23 academic year has changed and you must now register and create an account before applying.
The application must be made by the person receiving benefits who is named on the Proof of Benefit Letter / Tax Credits Award Notice / Universal Credit Payments Breakdown.
For more information, you can visit the Education Authority's website.
What do I get if I live in Scotland?
In Scotland, households can get help with school clothing and shoes and you must apply through your local council.
You can find your local council and whether it offers the grant on the Scottish government's website.
The grant is usually a cash grant paid directly into your bank account.
The amount of money you'll get and who can apply will depend on your council, but everybody who gets a school clothing grant will get at least:
- £120 per child who is of primary school age
- £150 per child of secondary school age
Most councils will accept applications from July until the end of March, but it's worth checking your local authority's website for further details.
You get one school clothing grant payment each year.
Some of the councils offering the grant this year include Aberdeen City Council, Edinburgh Council and Fife Council.
What if you're not eligible for a grant?
There are some other options if you live in an area where you're not entitled to a uniform grant.
For example, you can always try approaching your nearest Citizens' Advice branch.
If you don't know where your nearest Citizens' Advice branch is, you can use its branch locator.
You may also be redirected to a local charity, including the Salvation Army, where you can buy clothes.
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Failing that, you can always approach your child's school.
Sometimes they might be able to sell you a uniform that has been used before at a reduced rate.
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