With the average UK family spending £337 per year on school uniform for each secondary school child, and £315 per year for each primary school child, the cost of kitting your kids out for school can be an expensive task. Fortunately, the UK government has a grant for precisely this predicament, available to struggling parents to help cover the cost of school uniforms.
In this article, we explain what the School Uniform Grant is, who is eligible for it, and how you can apply.
What is the School Uniform Grant?
The School Uniform Grant is a grant from your local council to provide financial support towards the cost of school uniforms and PE kits. It is a grant, not a loan, so it does not need to be paid back at any point. While the grant is available across all of the devolved nations, it's currently only offered by some councils in England, so you will need to use the government's eligibility checker to find out if your region provides it.
The amount that you are entitled to also depends on which area you live in - for example, you could receive up to £150 per child in the borough of Islington in London, but only up to £30 per child in North Lincolnshire. The final amount offered to you may also depend on your child's age, what type of school they're attending, and your earnings and savings may be taken into account.
There can be even further eligibility criteria, such as in the London borough of Bexley, where in addition to these requirements, you would need to demonstrate "exceptional circumstances" - which the council says would be along the lines of "if all of the children's school clothing had been destroyed in a house fire".
Who is eligible for the School Uniform Grant?
Each council sets its own eligibility criteria, so you should check your local authority's website to see if - and how much - help you're entitled to. As a general rule, however, the grant is available for children who are already receiving free school meals.
In order to be eligible for free school meals, and therefore get help towards school uniform costs, you would need to be claiming at least one of the following benefits:
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit Run-on (paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for working tax credit)
- Universal Credit
The School Uniform Grant is therefore reserved for those on low incomes and with small savings, and although the government doesn't specify any precise caps to receive the grant itself, there are limits for most of the benefits listed above. For example, to receive Universal Credit, you (and your partner) can't have savings of more than £16,000.
To find out if you are eligible for any of the above benefits, head over to our 6-minute benefit-checker.
How do I apply for the School Uniform Grant?
The process of applying for the School Uniform Grant, and even the name of the scheme itself, differs depending on where you are in the UK.
England - School Uniform Grant
You could receive up to £150 per child, depending on your council, but it could be as little as £20 or even nothing at all. As of April 2021, only an estimated 12 of 51 regions offer the grant, as it is not compulsory in England as it is in the devolved nations. You can use the GOV.UK’s postcode search to see if your council offers the grant.
Scotland - School Clothing Grant
All Scottish councils are required by law to provide grants of at least £100 per child, and in some cases they offer even higher amounts. You can use the MYGOV.SCOT postcode search to see if your council offers the grant.
Wales - Pupil Development Grant
All councils must provide a grant of £125 which can be used to buy school uniform, equipment, sports kits, and even kit for activities outside of school. The grant is controlled centrally by the Welsh government itself, not individual councils, so you'll need to apply directly through the GOV.WALES website.
Northern Ireland - School Uniform Grant
Primary-age pupils can receive £35.75 towards uniforms and PE kit, secondary school kids under the age of 15 can get £73, and kids in school over the age of 15 can get £78. You'll need to apply online through the Education Authority.
More advice for parents
Visit our articles on the best children's bank accounts or the best health insurance policy to cover your children. Or, looking for ways to teach your kids about money? Check out our top 5 tips.