School uniform grants – check if you can reduce costs by up to £200 with support from your council
If you're on a low income and struggling with the cost of school uniform, you could get up to £200 to put towards it 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. But go quick as some deadlines have already passed and late applications may not continue to be accepted for long.
School uniform can be a significant expense for many families, with one recent parent survey finding that the annual cost can reach more than £400 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.
Below we take you through the school uniform grants available. You can also see our full School uniform MoneySaving guide for further tips on cutting costs.
Free school meals is the key to qualifying for a uniform grant
While local authorities can set their own eligibility criteria, generally the minimum UK-wide requirement to get a school uniform grant is to qualify for (but not necessarily get) means-tested free school meals. Councils can also include additional criteria to qualify for school uniform grants – for example, in some cases your child has to be in a specific year group or moving from primary to secondary school to qualify.
To get means-tested school meals, you'd need to be getting at least one of the following 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.
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. You can also see our Free school meals guide for more info on how they work and the help available over the school holidays.
If you're not currently getting any benefits, you can 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 153 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.
Please bear in mind that you may not receive the funds before the start of the new school term.
|ALL COUNCILS||£93.60||Online via the Education Authority||28 July 2023 (but currently accepting late applications)|
|ALL COUNCILS||Varies by council, but at least £120||Online – see MyGov.scot for links to your council's application form||Typically 31 March 2024 but varies by council (earliest we've seen is 31 December 2023)|
|ALL COUNCILS||£200||Online – see Gov.wales for links to your council's application form||31 May 2024|
|Bolton||£30||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|City of London||£160||Online via council's website||31 July 2023 (but currently accepting late applications)|
|Cumberland||£100||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||£40||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Greenwich||£150||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Hackney||£100||Online via council's website||30 June 2023 (but currently accepting late applications)|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||£79||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Haringey||£60||Online via council's website||31 March 2024|
|Hounslow||£60||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Islington||£150||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|North Lincolnshire||£30||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Nottingham||£40||Online via council's website||31 December 2023|
|Sandwell||£25||Online via council's website||31 January 2024|
|Southwark||£45||By email using form on council's website||11 August 2023 (but currently accepting late applications)|
|Stockport||£45||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Tower Hamlets||£110||Online via council's website||30 September 2023|
|Wandsworth||£160||No need to apply – vouchers issued automatically to those eligible||Not applicable|
|Westmorland and Furness||£100||Online via council's website||No deadline|
|Westminster||£150||Contact your child's school (funding is being distributed by schools)||Not applicable|
|York||£100||No need to apply – vouchers issued automatically to those eligible||Not applicable|
Council not listed above? Ask if it has other help available
Under the Government's Household Support Fund, councils in England have access to a pool of £1 billion in funding to help those most in need with the cost of daily essentials, including school clothing in some cases.
Each council can choose how to distribute the money, so eligibility criteria and what you can get varies – for example, some have given extra funding to schools to hand out, while others provide direct help to vulnerable households in the form of supermarket vouchers.
To find out what your council offers and whether you might qualify for support, and to apply, contact your council as soon as you can, as funding could run out at any time.
Other ways to cut the cost of school uniform
If you can't get help from your council or school, here are other ideas to help keep uniform costs down:
- 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.
- Cheap supermarket uniforms. Various supermarkets offer generic uniform from as little as £1.50 an item – these are plain-coloured clothes with no unique school badges. This is excellent value if your child's school allows generic uniforms.
Sales and discounts tend to come around early in the summer holidays, so it's better to shop sooner rather than later. For the latest offers, see our Cheap school uniform deals round-up.
Bonus 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.