Need to buy school uniform? Check if you can get a grant of up to £200 to help with the cost
If you're on a low income and struggling with the cost of school uniform, you could get up to £200 to help in the form of a non-repayable grant. To help, we've searched through council websites to find which offer it – check below to see if you qualify and what you could get.
School uniform can be a significant expense for many families, with some parent surveys finding that the annual cost can reach more than £300 a child. But all local authorities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and some in England (though here it's a postcode lottery), have schemes in place to help parents and carers shoulder this cost.
Free school meals is the key to qualifying for a grant
The exact criteria for free school meals varies slightly around the UK – see full info and how to apply in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
However, while local authorities can set their own eligibility criteria, generally the minimum UK-wide requirement to get the grant is to qualify for (but not necessarily get) free school meals. For that, you'd need to be getting at least one of the following means-tested benefits:
- Child tax credit
- Income support
- 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
- Universal credit
- Working tax credit 'run-on' – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for working tax credit
Councils can also include additional criteria – for example, in some cases your child has to be in a specific year group or moving from primary to secondary school to qualify.
If you're not currently getting any benefits, do our 10-minute benefits check to ensure you're not missing out on vital support.
Check what your council offers and how to apply
We looked at the websites of all 151 councils in England responsible for education services and found the following offer grants to help with school clothing costs. We've also listed the details on grants for those living in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales:
|Council||Amount you could get||How to apply||Application deadline for 2022/23 academic year|
|ALL COUNCILS||Up to £67.20 per child||Online via the Education Authority||31 July 2022 (but currently accepting late applications)|
|ALL COUNCILS||At least £120 per child (councils can choose to pay more than this)||Online – see MyGov.scot for links to your council's application form||Varies by council but usually 31 March 2023|
|ALL COUNCILS||Up to £200 per child||Online – see Gov.wales for links to your council's application form||30 June 2023|
|Barnet||Up to £100 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Bolton||Up to £30 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Bristol||Depends on your circumstances||Online via council's website||9 October 2022|
|Bury||Up to £50 per child||No need to apply – vouchers distributed by schools to those eligible||Not applicable|
|Cumbria||Up to £100 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||Up to £40 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Enfield||£30||No need to apply – vouchers distributed by schools to those eligible||Not applicable|
|Greenwich||Up to £100 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Hackney||£100 per child||Online via council's website||30 June 2022 (but currently accepting late applications)|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||Up to £79 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Haringey||Up to £60 per child||Online via council's website||31 August 2022|
|Hounslow||Up to £60 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Islington||£150||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|North Lincolnshire||Up to £30 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Nottingham||Up to £40 per child||Online via council's website||31 December 2022|
|Rotherham||£30 per child||No need to apply – vouchers distributed by schools to those eligible||Not applicable|
|Sandwell||Up to £25 per child||Online via council's website||31 January 2023|
|Stockport||£40 per child||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Tower Hamlets||Up to £110 per child||Online via council's website||30 September 2022|
|York||Up to £100 per child||No need to apply – vouchers posted automatically to those eligible||Not applicable|
|A further nine councils in England – Bexley, Essex, Lancashire, Liverpool, Nottinghamshire, Redbridge, South Gloucestershire, Southend-on-Sea and Tameside – offer grants but only in exceptional circumstances, for example where you've suffered a fire, flood or have been made homeless. Click the links for more info on each council's website.|
Can't get a grant from your council? Ask your school for help
Many schools offer support to families who need financial assistance with uniforms, for example by giving you vouchers towards the cost.
It's also worth checking if your school has any second-hand uniform sales – this can be a good way to pick up lower-priced uniform at a fraction of the retail cost.
Other ways to cut the cost of school uniforms
If you can't get help from your council or school, here are other ideas to help keep uniform costs down:
- Cheap supermarket uniforms. Various supermarkets offer generic uniform from as little as £1.50 per item – these are plain-coloured clothes with no unique school badges. This is excellent value if your child's school allows generic uniforms. See what's on offer in our Cheap school uniform deals round-up. Tip: If you do need items with a logo, sometimes it's cheaper to buy a generic sweatshirt and iron on a badge yourself – this can work out cheaper than the official sweatshirts.
- Check local Facebook groups and community programmes. There may be a 'school uniform bank' or pop-up shop in your area offering items at low or no cost, or a swap meet where you can exchange items with other parents and carers.
- eBay and Facebook Marketplace can be a treasure trove. Look out for bundles. For example, we've previously spotted a bundle of five M&S summer gingham dresses for £1.65.
For more tips, see our full School uniform MoneySaving guide.
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