Take the pain out of back-to-school costs with our cheaper, greener guide to school uniform.
The average cost of school uniform is £101.19 per child according to The School Wear Association. But as any parent will confirm, the true cost is likely higher.
Factor in school bags, stationery, swim kit, winter coat and even tights, and you’ll soon feel the pinch, especially if you have more than one child to buy for.
This has fuelled calls for the Scottish Government to introduce national guidance to keep the costs down.
Thankfully, support is available for families on low income. At the same time, many environmentally-conscious parents are embracing school swap shops as a great way to reduce, reuse and recycle.
We’ve pulled together all you need to know about school uniform grants and support.
What grants are available in Scotland?
In Scotland, local authorities are required to offer financial assistance to low income families.
The Scottish Government provides councils with funding to offer grants of £120 for every eligible primary school child and £150 for eligible pupils in secondary school. The actual amount varies between councils but this is the minimum grant amount.
Who is eligible?
The eligibility criteria is the same in every area. You can apply for the school clothing grant if you receive:
- Income support
- Universal Credit (max monthly income £625)
- Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance (any income-related element)
- Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit, and income must be less than £16,105)
- Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit (income below £7,500)
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
You can also apply if you’re aged 16-18 and not receiving benefits, if you can’t access public funds (usually due to immigration status) or if you’re a family waiting for your first Universal Credit statement.
How much will I receive?
The minimum grant award is £120 for primary school children and £150 for secondary school children. However, some councils top this up.
For instance, Highland Council pay £140 for primary school pupils. Shetland Council also pay £100 grants for nursery uniform.
Check your local authority website for specific details.
How do I apply?
Most councils take applications online from March to July. If you already qualify for free school meals, some local authorities will automatically provide you with a school clothing grant.
Most councils also automatically renew your claim each year, so you may not need to re-apply every year.
However, if you’ve not received these benefits before, contact your local council’s welfare team and check what you might be entitled to.
How will the grant be paid?
Most councils pay the cash directly into your bank account, but some provide the grant in the form of vouchers. Again, check directly with your local authority.
What should I do if I’m struggling?
There’s help and support available for low-income families. Your council’s Welfare team will be able to provide advice on various grants including:
- School Clothing Grants
- Free school meals
- Best Start maternity grants
- Fuel supplements
- Council Tax discounts
- Child benefits and income support
How can I reduce waste from old school uniforms every year?
Many schools now stock lightly-worn school uniform and other clothing, which can be bought for a small donation or exchanged.
There’s also a growing movement among green-minded parents to run swap shops. Simply take the clothes your children have outgrown and swap for the next size up. It’s kinder to the environment and saves money too.