You may be able to get up to £150 to help with the cost of school uniforms and PE kits via a government school uniform grant.
Back to school – it’s one of those bittersweet times! (Yes, I know they haven’t broken up yet!)
I loved spending extra time with my kids, but a bit of time apart wouldn’t go amiss 😉
However, what dreads me at this time of year is the additional costs we’ve got to fork out for.
With our youngest in primary school, things aren’t that bad. Most of her uniform can be non-branded and picked up for a cheap enough price.
It’s the bigger one that makes my bank account quiver! At secondary school, she needs sports kits, football boots, astroturf boots, plus the actual uniform including a blazer, jumper and school shirt – which has to be school branded!
As times are tough, there is help available.
Instead of forking out money you may not have, there are ways to get uniform mega cheap – or even for free!
School uniform grant
You’re able to get up to £150 for your child’s school uniform with a government means tested grant.
Depending on your circumstances, local councils can help families on low incomes with the cost of uniforms.
Not every council will offer this, so you do need to check.
If you’re eligible, you’re able to get up to £150 to cover the costs of the actual uniform as well as PE kits.
Are you eligible?
Usually, you will be eligible if you receive any of the following benefits:
- Income support
- Job seeker’s allowance (income based)
- Child tax credit (provided you are not entitled to working tax credit)
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- State pension (this benefit must be your sole source of income)
- Support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Universal Credit
Remember, it’s not just about benefits. Your local council also needs to support the grant, so if they don’t, you won’t be able to get any support.
How can I apply?
You’re generally able to make applications between 30 June and 30 September, but each council runs differently so, it’s best to check with them.
You will need to make a new application each year if you need it.
Some places offer better support than others:
You can check if your council provides support for school uniform costs on the government website.
Just enter your postcode, and it’ll take you to your own council’s uniform policy page.
If you are eligible for a school uniform grant, you will likely be paid the money via cheque.
According to The Mirror, the number of councils offering this benefit is going down.
In the last year, they say dozens of councils that have withdrawn from the scheme. This means you may have got the school uniform grant last year, but you may not be able to get it this year.
In Scotland, you can apply for at least £100 in financial help with the school clothing grant.
You need to apply to your local council and the eligibility criteria, and the amount you’ll get is all decided by them.
The grant is available for primary and secondary age children.
You’re after a Pupil Development Grant if you live in Wales.
You can get £125 to buy school uniform, equipment, sports kit and kit for activities outside of school for your child.
If you have a child who gets free school meals, you can apply if they are:
- entering reception class in primary school
- entering year 7 in secondary school
- aged 4, 7, 11 or 14 in special schools, special needs resource bases or pupil referral units
- For Year 7 learners the grant is £200, recognising the increased costs associated with starting secondary school.
- a look-after child
You need to contact your local authority to apply.
In Northern Ireland, you need to apply to the Education Authority for the Clothing Allowance Scheme, if you’re eligible.
This can give you a grant for uniform for primary, post-primary and special schools, but will not give you grant funding for nursery schools, nursery units or reception classes.
You can get:
- £35.75 for a primary school pupil
- £51 for a post-primary/special school pupil under 15 years old
- £56 for a post-primary/special school pupil over 15 years old
- £22 for a post-primary/special school pupil physical education kit
- A school pupil can usually only get one clothing allowance during the school year.
If your local council doesn’t support the school uniform grants or you’re not eligible to apply, there are a few different options to get cheaper school uniform.
Many schools offer nearly new sales.
It’s best to reach out to your school directly to see if it’s something that they, or the PTA, offer.
Their nearly new sales sell cheaper school uniform and PE kits that were donated by parents or if it’s been in lost and found for too long.
Last year, we managed to get new school dresses for just £1 – like new!
Facebook Marketplace is a decent place to look at or other local Facebook selling pages.
Rather than sitting and waiting for something to pop up, put out a wanted advert. It could be that people have a second-hand uniform but didn’t think about selling it before.
You’ll find that eBay will also have lots of uniforms, but if you’ve got a school with branded jumpers or ties then keeping it local is a winner.
While the government school uniform grant can be a real lifesaver for some, there is no duty for the councils to help.
If you’re really struggling with the costs of school uniform, it’s best to approach the school directly to see if there’s anything else they can do to help.
Naomi knows the burden of living on very little and became debt free by learning from past mistakes and following her own money saving tips and tricks. She is studying a Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems and is a Youth Mental Health First Aid Champion.