EMA, Bursaries and Financial Support

Clothing Grants, Free School Meals and Free School Milk

Clothing Grant and Free School Meal Applications run for the full school year, therefore, if you have already applied and have received a Clothing Grant or are currently receiving Free School Meals for the current school year, please do not reapply until we notify you the new application for 2023/24 is available.  New forms should be available in June 2023.


Apply for Free School Meals - 2022/23

If you have not already applied for Free School Meals for the current school year, please apply using the link below:

Apply Now - Clothing Grant/Free School Meals


Free School Meals

A free School Meal is a school lunch provided free of charge by Shetland Islands Council to children from families on a low income.

Universal Free School Meals

All pupils in P1-5 are automatically entitled to free school meals.

If you meet the eligibility criteria below and have a child in early years or P1-5 you should still submit an application in order to receive the Clothing Grant, Free School Milk or Free School Meal Holiday Support. The Scottish Government provide additional funding to schools based on pupils who are entitled to Free School Meals.

Children attending Early Learning and Childcare settings, including Entitled 2's will also be eligible for the universal entitlement.

Clothing Grant

A Clothing Grant is a grant awarded to children from families on a low income to help towards the cost of clothing and footwear.

The Clothing Grant awards for 2023/24 are as follows:

  • Early Years - £150
  • Primary - £180
  • Secondary - £225  

Pupils who turn 16 on or before 30th September will not be eligible for a Clothing Grant but should apply for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) instead. These pupils will still be eligible for Free School Meals, if they meet the criteria.

Payments are made by BACS to your nominated bank account, or by cheque, where necessary.

Eligibility Criteria for Clothing Grant/Free School Meals

Clothing Grants and Free School Meals are linked to the level of income/benefit a family receives. To check if you qualify, please refer to the table below.

Income/Benefit Criteria

Free School Meals

Clothing Grant

Income Support* Yes


Income-based Job Seekers Allowance* Yes Yes
Income related Employment Support Allowance* Yes Yes

Universal Credit with a household take home pay of less than £726 per month*

Yes Yes
Universal Credit - Housing Element (with take home pay more than £726) Yes Yes

Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit, with an income less than £18,725

Yes Yes

Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, with an income less than £8,717

Yes Yes

Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, with an income greater than £8,717 but less than £18,725

Yes Yes
Help under Part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 Yes Yes
In care of the Local Authority Yes Yes

Housing Benefit


Council Tax Reduction (please note this does not include the Single Person Discount) Yes Yes

* Pupils are eligible for Free School Meals in their own right if they are aged 16-18 and fall into this category.

If you do not fall into any of the above criteria but feel you would benefit from Free School Meals due to exceptional circumstances or because you are facing financial hardship, please call us on 01595 743832.

Application Deadlines

  • Applications should be submitted by 31st July to ensure the continuation of Free School Meals after the summer holidays
  • Applications received after 31st October will not be backdated, and will only be effective from the date the application is received by Children's Services
  • No applications will be accepted after 17th March

Supporting Evidence

When you complete and submit your application form you will have to provide some documentary evidence.  This could be:

  • Tax Credit Award Notice (TCAN) TC602 2022/23 from HM Revenue & Customs
  • Your most recent Universal Credit Statement

If you are unable to supply one of the above documents, you can provide one of the below documents, along with proof that you are in receipt of Child Benefit for the children detailed on the application:

  • A recent letter from Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) confirming the type of benefit and current eligibility
  • If you receive Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, your letter must state the words Income-based
  • Confirmation of your current support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS)

You can upload the documentary evidence on your application form, or you can submit these by email to childrensservices-finance@shetland.gov.uk.  Pictures taken on your mobile phone and then uploaded to the application form or emailed are acceptable but please ensure the picture is clear and readable.  However, we reserve the right to the see the original document if necessary, on request.

How to access your Universal Credit Statement

Log in to your online journal. This will take you to your Universal Credit account and go to your home page.

  1. Select 'Payments'
  2. View 'Statement by pay date' - select your most recent pay date and open the statement
  3. Download the statement or take screenshots of the full document. Please note we will not accept incomplete statements