‘Help is available’ with back to school costs | Newry Times

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Thursday, August 19th, 2021

No sooner have the summer holidays begun than parents start thinking of planning for back to school and all they need to organise, including buying new school uniforms and other supplies.


'Help is available' with back to school costs - Newry Times - newry news baby


It can be an expensive time for families, but the good news is there may be help available with back to school costs.



School meals

The Education Authority oversees the free school meals scheme for primary and secondary school pupils.

Additionally, assistance is available for children with a statement of special educational needs and specific dietary requirements.

Eligibility is dependent on parents being in receipt of specific benefits.

The Department of Education (DE) has also confirmed that it will pay for free school meals for eligible children during all school holidays until April 2022.



School uniforms

The Education Authority also oversees the school uniform grant. Eligibility criteria are similar to the free school meals scheme.

Households are entitled to one clothing allowance of between £35.75 and £78, per school-aged pupil, per academic year.

Transport costs to school

The Education Authority is required to provide transport to and from school for any pupils who meet specific criteria.

In addition to this, a child with additional educational needs or disabilities may also receive assistance with transport.

Support is made available where there is no suitable school within a legal walking or qualifying distance from the pupil’s home, or where the pupil has not secured a place in an appropriate school within that distance.



How to apply

Free school meals and school uniform grant applications can now be made online and parents can upload information regarding their benefit entitlement to prove eligibility.

Once submitted the application can take up to four weeks to process.

Home to school transport assistance applications can now be made online, for both primary and post-primary school pupils.

The Education Authority website provides an online Eligibility Checker to help parents find out if their child will qualify, prior to completing the formal application.

For further information on free school meals, school uniform grants and home to school transport, including how to apply, visit the Education Authority website.


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Cost of childcare

Many families still require ‘wraparound’ childcare during school term-time.

Now is the time to find out what financial support is available – most families are entitled to some help with their registered childcare costs, whether through Tax Credits, Childcare Vouchers, Universal Credit or Tax-Free Childcare.



For those using Childcare Vouchers, some will have reduced or paused payments during Covid-19 so it’s important to increase or restart these to make the maximum savings.

Personalised advice and guidance

Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service provides free, impartial and confidential advice to parents on the financial support their family is entitled to and can help families work out if they are eligible for support with back to school costs.

Freephone 0800 028 3008 or email hello@employersforchildcare.org.


Keep up to date with all the latest Northern Ireland Coronavirus / Covid-19 news HERE.


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