Citizens Advice: Help with back to school costs

​My children are starting new schools in September, one is in primary school and the other secondary. Between uniforms, PE kit, school trips, and knowing they’ll need to catch the bus each day the costs are adding up. I’m already pretty stretched, so I’m not sure how to cover these extra outgoings. Is there any help I can get?
A new school year can put pressure on lots of people’s budgets. Photo: AdobeStockA new school year can put pressure on lots of people’s budgets. Photo: AdobeStock
A new school year can put pressure on lots of people’s budgets. Photo: AdobeStock

Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre chief executive Nick Whittingham writes:

A new school year can put pressure on lots of people’s budgets, so you’re not alone in your worries. But there is help available.

A good place to start is the Citizens Advice website at, where you’ll find lots of information on the support you might be entitled to for school-related costs and more.

The help you can get to cover school lunches will vary depending on how old your children are and if you claim any benefits.

Children in Reception, Year 1 and 2 automatically get free school meals.

You can apply for free school meals for older children if you claim certain types of benefits, including Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Income Support. The full list is available on the Citizens Advice website.

You mentioned some concerns about travel costs.

If your child can’t walk to school because of special educational needs or disabilities, they should get free school transport.

You may be able to get help with transport costs from your Local Education Authority if your children can’t walk because it’s dangerous or their school is too far away.

Your Local Education Authority is the part of your local council that deals with education in your area, you can find yours on GOV.UK.

Contact it directly to find out exactly what support it offers.

Additionally, the Kirklees Council website contains lots of information about schools such as bus passes, free school meals and more, and can be found at

If you’re on a low income, your Local Education Authority may also be able to help you with activity and school uniform costs.

You’re likely to be considered to be on a low income if you get means-tested benefits like Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

In some places there are also local charitable schemes that can help with a range of school related costs.

A good place to find out about these is the school itself or Parent Teacher Association (PTA) both will usually know if these kinds of schemes exist for your children’s schools.

A lot of people are feeling the squeeze at the moment, but it’s important to remember that help is available with starting school costs and you’re not alone.

If you would like to speak to Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre about an issue you’re facing, call us on 0808 278 7896 (Freephone) or visit us at our contact centres in Dewsbury and Huddersfield.

You may be coming to us for the first time, but we can help with housing, employment, asylum, debt, benefits and more. See our website at for more information, and details on how to get in touch.