School uniforms are costly for families – but there is help out there for families who need it. Image: Pexels
The new school year comes at a hefty cost. Children often need new stationery, textbooks and uniforms because they’ve outgrown last year’s – and that all gets expensive quickly.
According to the Children’s Society, parents spend an average of £337 a year on school uniforms for each secondary school child. For primary school pupils, the average cost is £315.
Research from George at Asda revealed 40 per cent of UK parents are having to send their child to school in old or worn uniforms that don’t fit them anymore, and more than half (53 per cent) said that was because they simply could not afford new ones. More than a third (35 per cent) said they knew their children felt embarrassed going to school because of their uniforms.
Some local authorities offer a school uniform grant, but the support varies hugely depending on where you live. We have rounded up everything you need to know about getting support to cover the costs of school uniforms before term starts.
Does my local council offer a school uniform grant?
Whether you can access a school uniforms grant depends on your local council. Some authorities across the country offer financial support to help families pay for school uniforms and clothing. If you are based in England, you can check the government’s website and enter your postcode to see if you can get a school uniforms grant in your area.
According to Money Saving Expert, 27 local councils in England offer a uniform grant. These range from £25 to £150 per child. A further nine councils in England offer grants in extreme circumstances – such as if someone has been made homeless.
All councils across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offer some form of grant to cover uniform costs. But whether you are eligible and the amount of money you will get depends on your postcode.
How much is the school clothing grant in Scotland?
Families in Scotland may be able to get help through a school clothing grant. It’s normally a cash grant paid directly to your bank account. Everybody who gets a grant will be given at least £120 per child at primary school and £150 per child at secondary school. Check whether your local council offers help (and how much) by typing in your postcode on the Scottish government’s website.
How much is the clothing allowance in Northern Ireland?
In Northern Ireland, there is a clothing allowance scheme, which covers pupils in primary, post-primary and special schools. A uniform grant can pay £42.90 for a primary school pupil, £61.20 for a post-primary or special school pupil under the age of 15, and £67.20 for a post-primary school pupil over the age of 15. It will also cover £26.40 for a post-primary and special school PE kit.
How much is the pupil development grant in Wales?
Low-income families in Wales can get help through the pupil development grant. It’s intended to cover the costs of school uniform, IT equipment, stationery and school bag, PE kit, and specialist equipment for subjects such as design and technology.
Families can get £225 per student, and £300 for those beginning Year 7 because of the increased costs of starting secondary school. Families on certain benefits are eligible – usually, if your child is eligible for free school meals, they will also be eligible for the pupil development grant. Check your local authority’s website to see if you can apply.
How can I get help from my school to cover uniform costs?
If your local council doesn’t offer grants to cover school uniform costs, or if you are not eligible, the next step is to contact your school for help. Many schools offer support – including grants of their own, vouchers, or discount schemes. Most have second-hand sales, where you can get uniforms for a fraction of the price of new clothes.
Where else can I get cheap school uniforms?
Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay are packed with plenty of cheap second-hand school uniforms – keep an eye out for a bargain deal. It’s worth trying charity shops in your local area too.
Supermarkets also have deals on uniforms. For example, at Aldi, you can get a full school uniform for £5. This includes polo shirts, a sweatshirt and either a girl’s pleated skirt or boy’s trousers. At Asda, Morrisons and Tesco you can get school uniform items from £2.50.
What other support is available to help cover the costs of uniforms?
The charity Buttle UK is partnering with George at Asda this year to provide five million children with school uniforms. The retailer is providing £125,000 in Gift Cards for Buttle UK to distribute through their Chances for Children grants.
The charity only accepts applications for grants from frontline professionals – such as a registered charity, housing association or public sector organisation. Find out more here.
More help may be available through other charitable grants to help you with the costs of sending your kids to school. Turn2us have a Grants Search where you can find out the grants available to you.
Charity Glasspool has an Essential Living Fund, providing small grants for household items and essential clothing to people in need. This can cover the cost of school uniforms.
They also only accept applications from support workers – so if you think you might need help, it’s worth asking your housing support officer, local branch of Citizens Advice, a voluntary organisation or local authority officer.
Family Fund considers grant applications to help families with a disabled or severely ill child to help with costs. They work with Park to provide grants if a child or young person has additional clothing needs. Your grant can then be used in a select group of stores including Marks & Spencer, Schuh, New Look and Shoezone.
You can check if you meet the eligibility criteria on Family Fund’s website, which also has details about how to apply. The Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust has a grant to help low income families working in the UK fashion and textile industry who are struggling with the cost of going back to school. This includes people who have worked in high street clothes shops, in laundrettes and supermarkets with clothing lines.
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