Whilst summer is a super fun and exciting time for kids and teens, we know that it is not always the same story for parents. The weeks leading up to the return to school in September often include tedious uniform shopping, hours spent finding suitable school shoes, and last-minute stationery purchases – all of which add up.
The Citizens Advice website is a great place to start if you are looking for help with covering the costs of back to school. They offer advice and suggestions for parents who may be struggling and need help with uniforms, transport, school meals, and school costs. They also offer plenty of advice for those whose finances may have been affected by the Covid pandemic. Find out which benefits you may be eligible for and where you can seek help and advice in your local area.
Gov.co.uk & TfL
Although National Government doesn’t offer direct financial support, they do offer links and advice to what you may be entitled to from your local council.
Those aged 16-19 who fit certain vulnerability criteria may also be able to apply for help with educational costs. You can find out more and apply on GOV.UK
All children and young adults living in London are entitled to free and discounted travel from TFL. All children up to the age of 17 can get a Zip Oyster photo card. This allows them free bus and tram travel, and discounts on all other fares. Those over the age of 18 can apply for a Zip Oyster Card given that they are still in school or further education.
If you live in the London Borough of Lambeth, Lambeth council advise you to speak directly with your child’s school to arrange free school meals and help with uniform.
If you live in the London Borough of Southwark, you can apply for a £45 grant for children aged 11 transitioning from Primary to Secondary school in Southwark. The closing date for submitting your application is August 31st September.
If you live in the London Borough of Westminster, you can apply for free school meals by sending a form. These forms take 2 weeks to be processed so we suggest getting your applications in ASAP.
If you live in the London Borough of Camden, you can apply for various benefits and support through the council website. They offer support in schools for free meals and links to TFL free and discounted transport.
Through your Trade Union
Unison is the UK’s largest trade union and offers all sorts of help to its public service members. The union offers a School Uniform Grant for low-income members, providing financial support towards the costs of back to school.
USDAW is another large trade union in the UK. They have partnered with The Fashion and Textiles Children’s Trust and can provide a grant for families working in the fashion and textiles industry. This grant is specifically for those affected by the COVID pandemic. It covers: people that have been furloughed, been made redundant, and had their working hours reduced.
Unite the Union covers all sectors of the economy. They offer various benefits, grants, and support to their members. Some areas they cover are school uniforms, free school meals, education, and bursaries.
If you are part of another trade union, look at their website to see if they can offer support.
Child Benefit Loan
London Mutual offers a child benefit loan which is available to anyone, regardless of income or employment status. Taking out a loan may not be right in every situation, but this could be a good option if you did want to borrow for short periods. The loan is repayable via child benefit, making it hassle-free and easy to budget.