The summer school holidays are now upon us but it wont be long before preparations are underway for the new school year. With every new school year comes the cost of a new school uniform and the best part of £200 per pupil. It's a big expense for families, amplified by the current substantial cost of living increase.
Clothing grants are provided by local councils to assist with the costs of a new uniform if you're in receipt of certain benefits. The amount varies by local authority area but as a minimum you may be eligible for a school clothing grant of £120 (primary school) or £150 (secondary school) per child.
Details of eligibility criteria for Clothing Grants can be found on the Scottish Government website Help with school clothing costs - mygov.scot You should check with your local council about their own claiming process but most allow applications to be made online from July each year.
Unfortunately, many people feeling the financial squeeze won't be eligible for clothing grants but alternative assistance may be available in your area. A number of charities and community interest companies operate throughout Scotland to provide recycled pre-loved uniforms to pass on for free to families.
Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre recently spoke with Donna Henderson, the founder of Glasgow’s Pre-Loved Uniforms, who currently works with 29 schools across Glasgow. Donna explained some of the growing challenges families face when it comes to the costs of uniforms: "Although some families are entitled to a school clothing grant kids grow all year round and they don't have the money to go out and buy uniforms when money is really tight. Unfortunately, there are always people too quick to judge and say why give them a free uniform when they smoke, drink, take drugs or buy takeaways".
"For some they are unable to budget and if they have a couple of children then it can be £260 at the start of July to buy school uniforms but that may get spent on other bills. We've found since the summer of 2020 we're supporting more families who are in work and just miss out on the school clothing grant".
"I remember one parent had to give up their job due to a lack of childcare when the schools were off during lockdown. They were struggling to pay their mortgage with a child starting p1 and an older child at school. We were able to kit the p1 out from top to bottom making life less stressful and they only needed to buy a few items for the elder child. Apparently, they didn't qualify for the clothing grant".
If you are in Glasgow and are looking to request a school uniform, donate or provide other support to Glasgow's Pre-Loved Uniforms you can e-mail email@example.com, telephone 0756 572 6446 or contact the charity via twitter @bankuniform.
Other similar charities operate in other areas of Scotland and if you require support it is worthwhile checking what is available in your local area.
Since January 2022 Universal free school meals are available for those in Primary 1 – Primary 5, with further extension for all primary aged children planned by the end of this year. For those not currently receiving Universal Free School Meals you may be entitled to Free School Meals if your household is in receipt of certain benefits or have certain family circumstances. Details of the eligibility for Free School Meals can be found here School meals - mygov.scot and if you are eligible you should contact your local authority for details on making an application. There is some assistance available during certain holiday periods, including the summer holidays of 2022, if you are in receipt of qualifying benefits. Check with your local council to see how this support is delivered in your area.
For young people, aged 16 to 19, continuing with schooling or non-advanced education they may be eligible for financial support of £30 per week which can assist with things such as travel costs, study resources or clothing. Your local council will carry out an assessment of parental or carers income to determine eligibility for Education Maintenance Allowance. An overview of Education Maintenance Allowance along with the relevant eligibility criteria can be found here: Apply for or renew an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) - mygov.scot
You can use the Debt Navigator web chat to discuss with a Money Adviser, online, any questions you may have over your entitlement to support with the costs of a school day.