Help with school meals and school wear

Since September 2017, CHAI has held outreach sessions within 5 schools in Edinburgh as part of our Family Support and Advice Service.

The project aims to provide free and impartial advice on income maximisation, debt and housing issues for families with children and to make access to advice as easy as possible for parents by bringing the advice sessions into the school.

The project operates in Tynecastle High School, Dalry Primary School, Stenhouse Primary School, Rowanfield Special School and Pilrig Park Special School. Contact your local school’s reception for details on how to make an appointment with our adviser.

If you are a teacher or headmaster and would like to find out how your school could get involved, click here for our Project Information Sheet or contact us on 0131 442 2100.

The service has received great feedback so far and has maximised household income by £136,000 since it started in the autumn of 2017.

As we meet more and more families, it has come to our attention that many parents still struggle with the costs of school meals and clothing. In this post, we highlight the various sources of help available to parents in this area.


The Scottish Government has made free school meals available to all children from P1 to P3.  Beyond P3, parents can apply for help with school meals and school wear if they receive any of the following welfare benefits:

  •   A means-tested benefit such as Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income-based JSA; or
  • You receive Child Tax Credits and your annual income is less than £16,105; or
  • You receive both Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits and your annual income is under £6,420—in which case you only qualify for help with school meals, but not school clothing; or
  • Universal Credit, where take home pay is less than £610 per month.
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The application form can be downloaded at: or phone them on 0131 469 3471. You will need to provide benefit award letters as proof of income, including your latest tax credits award letter for 2017/18.

The Council’s school wear award is £43 for primary pupils and £50 for secondary pupils. You no longer get vouchers for school wear. Instead, a payment is made directly to your bank account.



If you are NOT eligible for help with school meals/school wear because you don’t claim any of the above benefits, you could get help from a charity instead such as the ones listed below.

Contact us if you would like a referral to any of these organisations.

  • Edinburgh Police Fund for Children (EPFC): They provide grants up to £50 for the purchase of school shoes and jackets.
  • Kids Love Clothes helps struggling families with young children by providing much-needed, quality donated kids’ clothing in gift bags.
  • Edinburgh School Uniform Bank: A volunteer-run uniform bank offering new uniforms and pencil cases to families who are struggling to afford school uniform.
  • The Edinburgh Clothing Store. A charity offering free clothing, shoes, bedding, etc for those in genuine need. This includes children’s clothing and can help with interview clothes, etc.
  • The Edinburgh and Lothian Trust Fund can give grants of up to £250 specifically for those experiencing hardship and/or with an illness or disability.
  • The Edinburgh Trust can give grants to people struggling financially living in the City of Edinburgh.



Free places are available in all breakfast clubs run by Edinburgh Council and in some private provider breakfast clubs. These can be allocated at the headteacher’s discretion according to the entitlement criteria for Free School Meals (see above) or if the school is aware a family is having financial or other difficulties. Ask your local school for details.