What support is there to buy school uniform and how to apply for help amid cost-of-living crisis

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With the rising cost of living hitting hard this summer, many families will be facing the burden of buying school uniforms for the new academic year. Credit: UTV

As the summer holidays approach and with the cost of living crisis continuing to hit families, the school uniform grant is to be increased by 20% to support those on low incomes in Northern Ireland.

Here UTV looks at who is eligible for the grant scheme, and what funding is available to help hard pressed families.

Who is eligible for government support?

The eligibility criteria is very similar to those who qualify for free school meals.

According to the Education Authority, anyone in receipt of any one of the following can receive help towards the cost of school uniforms:

  • Income Support

  • Income Based Jobseekers’ Allowance

  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit

  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit with an annual taxable household income of £16,190 or less

  • Universal Credit with net household earnings not exceeding £14,000 per year.

  • Asylum seekers supported by the Home Office Asylum Support Assessment Team

How much money is available for my child?

With the new increased funding, those in primary school are entitled to £42.90.

Those under the age of 15 can receive £61.20.

Anyone over the age of 15 can receive £67.20.

Anyone in secondary school who does PE is also entitled to an extra grant of £26.40.

How do I apply for the scheme.

Applications for the scheme can be made on the Education Authority website.

Applicants will need to upload proof of their qualifying benefit with their online application.

Those who are successful will be sent an email confirming their eligibility.

The process may take up to four weeks, according to the Education Authority.

Why has extra funding been announced for the scheme?

The Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced an investment of over £1million in the scheme.

“The cost of purchasing school uniforms can place significant financial strain on low income families," she said.

"My department is currently undertaking a review of free school meals and the uniform grant.

"In the interim, in light of the cost of living crisis, I am allocating an additional £1.04m to increase the uniform grant available this year to provide additional support to parents. “I appeal to all schools to be mindful of families across Northern Ireland who are struggling financially, and the additional burden purchasing school uniforms can place on household budgets.

"Every effort should be made to ensure school uniforms are as affordable as possible, in line with my department’s guidance on this issue,” the Minister added.

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