EMA, Bursaries and Financial Support

Clothing Grants, Free School Meals and Free School Milk

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 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.

Free School Meals

A free school meal is a school lunch provided free of charge to:

  • All children in early years and primary 1 to 5
  • Children from families on a low income

We are waiting for more information from the Scottish Government about the proposed extension of free school meal entitlement to primary 6 and 7 chlidren who receive Scottish Chlid Payment.  Therefore, pupils in primary 6 and 7 must meet the criteria below to be eligible for a free school meal.

Universal Free School Meals

All pupils in primary 1 to 5 are automatically entitled to free school meals during term time regardless of their family's financial circumstances.  These are called universal free school meals.  

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

Pupils in early years, or primary 1 to 5 attending a school with no meal provision will be entitled to re-imbursement based on daily meal rate for every day that the child has been in attendances at school.

You don't have to apply for universal free school meals, your child will receive them automatically.  However, if you meet the eligibility criteria below and have a child in early years or primary 1 to 5 you still need to apply for a Clothing Grant, Free School Milk and Free School Meal Holiday Support.  Making an applicaiton can also benefit your child's school as some Scottish Government funding provided directly to schools is linked to the numbers of pupils who are registered for free school meals.  

Eligibility Criteria 

Shetland Islands Council recently approved to extend the Scottish Government eligibility critiera.  If you are in receipt of one or more of the benefits listed below, you may be eligible for a school clothing grant, free school meals and free school milk:

  • Income Support*
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance*
  • Income related Employment Support Allowance*
  • Universal Credit - household take home pay less than £796 per month*
  • Universal Credit - Housing Element
  • Child Tax Credit / Working Tax Credit - with an earned income less than £19,995
  • Help under Part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999
  • In care of the Local Authority
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction (please note this does not include the Single Person Discount)

* 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 to discuss your circumstances.  

This could be becuase:

  • your immigration status means you cannot get help from the government
  • you're still waiting on your first Universal Credit notice

How to Apply

Applications for the new school session 2024/25 are now open. 

Apply Now - Clothing Grant/Free School Meals


Payment of clothing grants to primary and secondary aged chlidren will be processed from the beginning of July, and weekly thereafter, as applications are fully processed.  Payment of clothing grants to children in early years will only be processed when the chlid has started or returned to the early years setting in August.  Payments are made by BACS to your nominated bank account.

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:

  • Your most recent Universal Credit Statement
  • HMRC Tax Credit Award Notice (TCAN) TC602 2024/25 
  • HMRC Annual Review for the year ended 5th April 2024 

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