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How to get money off your children's back-to-school costs this September

The School Clothing Grant is part of the Education Act 1980 and helps families on low-incomes manage their school costs

September has finally come around and that can only mean one thing - the kids will be heading back to school soon.

And what does every parent know that means? Time to hit the shops for new uniforms, PE kits, shoes, stationary and backpacks.

The average parent will spend a huge £300 on back to school expenses - with uniform alone costing mums and dad an average of around £120.

But never fear! There's actually a grant available from some local councils to help with all of your back to school costs.

The School Clothing Grant is part of the Education Act 1980. It's a support scheme offered by the government though local councils to help families on low-incomes manage their school costs.

It's not a statutory duty, so not all councils will offer it, but if you do qualify, you can get up to £150 to help with uniform expenses, including PE kits.

To be eligible, you have to be earning less than £16,190 a year and be in receipt of one of the benefit schemes below.

To apply, you'll have to enter your postcode into the Gov.uk page for school uniform support.

Once you've located your council, you'll also be directed to other types of support you might qualify for around 'education and learning' such as travel relief, free school meals and help with childcare.

Who qualifies for help?

The Education Act stipulates that local authorities must make provision for the clothing of pupils that would otherwise be unable to afford schoolwear - however it's not compulsory.

The amount you can claim - if your council offers it - will depend on your local authority and their budget/allowance, but as a general rule, grants are available for people on a range of benefits including job seeker's allowance, income-related employment or support under the national asylum seekers support system (Nass).

You can also qualify if your annual income is less than £16,190.

It's worth noting that the scheme won't be applicable if your child is enrolled at an academy as these are independently-run.

To claim a grant you must be receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Job seeker's allowance (income based)
  • Child tax credit - provided you are not entitled to working tax credit
  • Employment Support allowance (ESA)
  • State pension - this benefit must be your sole source of income
  • Support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit

You must also prove that you are legally responsible for the child by sending the school admissions and benefits team a recent copy of your bank statement confirming the payment of child benefit to your account.

How much you can claim?

As this is not a statutory duty for councils, the amounts can vary hugely.

In Hammersmith and Fulham , the clothing allowance for children aged four and seven is £31. The allowance rises to £79 for children aged 11 and 14 before September 1 2017.

In Harrow, for the academic year 2017/18 the clothing grant will be £25 per child

In Hounslow the school clothing grant is payable to secondary school pupils attending year 7 and year 9 only and is £60 per child.

It's bad news for families in Brent though as Brent Council does not offer the grant.

When should I apply?

Generally applications can only be made between 30 June and 30 September - however it's worth double checking this date with your local authority first.

How will I be paid?

By cheque, which must be paid into a bank or building society account in your name.

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