£150 for back to school clothes with a School Uniform Grant

With the mass vaccination drive against coronavirus starting to bring infections down, the government is easing the tough restrictions we have all been living under.

This is of course very good news, but there could be some bumps in the road back to normality. One of these of these could affect you if you have school age children.

Throughout the latest lockdown, schools have remained open to children of key workers and the most vulnerable. But all other youngsters have been at home. Many are keen to get back to school – although most are probably keener on the chance to see their friends than on the thought of catching up on schoolwork.

But going back to school will mean some new worries for parents, and one of the biggest will be about providing uniforms. Many children will have outgrown their existing outfits. An estimated 12.5million pieces of uniform will be headed for landfill as parents realise their little ones are simply not so little anymore. The cost of replacing them will come as an added burden to already stretched family budgets.

Some schools have basic uniforms, and stores like Tesco have affordable ranges of school clothes which can help. Marks & Spencer are even offering a 10% discount if you sign up for a Sparks card.

But if you have several children to clothe before you can send them back to the classroom, you could still be looking at large bills. Even the cheapest supermarket uniform adds up when you need to buy several pairs of trousers, a few polo shirts, a few jumpers - they’re very often filthy after one wear, so you need plenty in the wardrobe. If their schools require costly special items such as blazers that can only be bought from one source the cost of your children’s uniforms could easily run into £hundreds.

The government is looking at ways to limit the cost of school uniforms, but until there are changes in legislation, there may be some practical help.

Thousands of parents across the country could be able to get support to help subsidise their child’s uniform costs as schools reopen with the School Uniform Grant. This offers qualifying households as much as £150 per child to help with the expenses associated with fitting out for full time education.

It’s part of the Education Act 1980 and is offered by the Government to help families on low incomes manage their budgets.

The School Uniform Grant is compulsory in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales where local authorities pay low income families at least £100 per child each year. In England, it’s not a statutory right, and many councils have been forced to scrap - or reduce - it in recent years due to funding shortages.

Is your council offering support?

In the past two years, dozens of councils who have withdrawn from the scheme - with many stating they no longer have the budget for it.

Stockton, Cornwall, Cambridgeshire and Northumberland have all stopped issuing the grant altogether. Other areas such as Nottinghamshire now only pay it to children with special educational needs. Even so, it’s always worth checking your local authority to see if you can get some financial support. Currently, residents in Gloucestershire can apply for up to £25, while those in the London borough of Islington can claim up to £150.

You can see if your local authority can help here.

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