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Low income families in Scotland to receive extra cash this winter - check if you're eligible and how to get it

Around 145,000 low income families in Scotland will automatically receive an extra £130 to help with the cost of living this winter. We explain how to check if you're eligible and how you'll get the payment.

The extra help for struggling households in Scotland will see quarterly 'Bridging Payments' automatically doubled from £130 to £260 this December only. These payments are currently given to low income families with children who receive free school meals - see below for further info on the eligibility criteria. 

This top-up will be in addition to the £25 a week 'Scottish Child Payment', which will be given to families with children aged 16 and under from 14 November. These payments are currently only available to families with children aged under six and are set at a lower £20 a week.

If you're on certain benefits, including universal credit and child tax credit, your child could be eligible for free school meals. See our UK-wide Free School Meals guide for help on how to check if you're eligible and apply.

Check if you're eligible for Scottish Child Bridging Payments

In Scotland, free school meals are provided to children up to year five.

If your child already gets free school meals:

All children registered to receive free school meals on the basis of coming from a low-income family are eligible for this payment, which will be paid automatically to their parent or guardian by their local council - so you won't need to apply to get it if your child is already registered. Payments will go into the account you receive your benefits into.

For your child to be eligible for free school meals, you'll need to receive certain benefits which include:

  • Child tax credit (if your income is up to £17,005 a year before tax)
  • Child tax credit AND working tax credit and your income is £7,920 a year before tax
  • Income support
  • Income-based employment and support allowance
  • Income-based job seeker's allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal credit (where your monthly income is not more than £660 after tax and not including benefits)

If your child doesn't get free school meals already: 

If you are receiving any of the benefits listed above and your child does not receive free school meals, you should contact your local council to claim both free school meals and the bridging payment. You should also check with your local council when your child needs to be registered by in order to receive the payment.

You might also be eligible if you haven't yet received your first universal credit payment but are waiting to get it, or your immigration status means you cannot get help from the Government. 

If you're not currently getting any benefits, use our 10-minute benefits check to ensure you're not missing out on vital support. 

Free school meals help elsewhere around the UK

Here's a summary of how the devolved nations provide free school meals - read our Free School Meals guide for more information: 

  • In England, free school meals are provided to children in reception, year one and year two. 

  • In Northern Ireland, free school meals are not automatically given out to children of any age. But parents claiming certain benefits can apply for free school meals for any children in full-time education.

  • In Wales, all reception year children began receiving free school meals in September. Some schools also offer free school meals to primary school children in years 1 and 2. You need to make sure you register your child for a free school meal. You can find out how to do this by contacting your child's school or your local council.

Families across the UK on low incomes and in receipt of certain benefits may also qualify for additional support on top. 

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