UK Parents and guardians who are struggling financially could be entitled to as much as £150 to put towards the cost of a school uniform. This money comes in the form of a grant – so it doesn’t need to be paid back – and is issued by some councils.
The help provided does vary between local authorities – meaning the amount you could get, and the eligibility criteria, can be a postcode lottery.
For example, residents in Gloucestershire can currently apply for up to £25 off, while those in Islington, London, could get as much as £150.
But some councils have pulled the support altogether due to lack of funding – so it may not even be available in some areas, Mirror reports.
This is because even though the help falls under the Education Act 1990, it isn’t a statutory right in England – and there are separate systems in place for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
So here is how to find what help is being offered by your council below.
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It comes after a new school uniform law was finally given the green light in April this year, which is designed to restrict the number of pricey branded items a school can request their pupils wear.
Instead, hard-up families can buy cheaper supermarket clothing to save them cash.
But the new guidance for the bill won’t be published until autumn, meaning parents won’t benefit from lower prices for the upcoming school year.
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Of course, the amount the new law could save in reality does depend on how many children you have and exactly how much you currently pay for uniform.
How The School Uniform Grant works
According to The Children’s Society, parents currently spend an average of £337 on uniform for each child at secondary school.
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However, The Schoolwear Association puts this figure at £101.19 per child in secondary school, on average.
We’ve rounded up the cheapest school uniform deals currently available from supermarkets like Aldi, Tesco and Lidl and prices start from £4.50.
Who can claim the school uniform grant?
As each council sets its own eligibility criteria, you’ll need to check your local authority’s website to see if you’re entitled to help.
But generally speaking, the grants are usually available for children who get free school meals.
To qualify for free school meals – and therefore potentially also get help with school uniform costs – you need to be claiming benefits, such as Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit.
Keep in mind the help offered may also depend on your child’s age, or what type of school they are attending, and your earnings and savings may be taken into account.
You can check if your local council offers a school uniform grant – and how much support they can give you – by entering your postcode into the Gov.uk website.
If your council does not offer support, the Department for Education (DfE) previously told Mirror Money that parents may be able to apply for a reduction instead.
If in doubt, contact your child’s school to see what help they could potentially offer you.
A DfE spokewoman said: “Our guidance emphasises that schools should give highest priority to cost considerations.
“No school uniform should be so expensive as to leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply to, or attend a school of their choice due to the cost of the uniform.”
In Wales, the government offers a Pupil Development Grant (PDG) instead.
Applications for this tend to open in early July and each grant is worth £125, or £200 if the child is in year 7.
In Scotland, the School Clothing Grant is now compulsory – with all councils required to offer a minimum of £100.
And for those in Northern Ireland, primary-age pupils can receive £35.75 towards uniforms and PE kit, secondary school kids under 15 can get £73, and kids in school over 15 can get £78.