Support for families

Financial support for families

A family of two adults and two children smiling at the camera.

If you are having financial difficulties, please speak to a member of staff in your child’s nursery or school who can help you access some of the supports listed.

Help with food

Free School Meals

Children in families that receive the following benefits can claim free school meals:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC), but not Working Tax Credit, and your income is less than £16,105
  • Both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit and your income is under £7500
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit where take home pay is less than £625 per month

Families receiving these benefits should still apply for free school meals for children in P1 to 5, even though free school meals is universal in these years. This will allow your child to receive free school milk, clothing grant, holiday payments and other supports. You can apply at any time but to ensure your child receives meals for the start of the new session in August apply in June. Apply for free school meals and clothing grant

Food banks

If you are struggling to afford food there are food banks across the city. A list of them can be found below

A referral to a local food bank can be made for you by your school, social worker, GP or health visitor.


Discover is a holiday programme for low income families that provide meals and activities for primary school aged children and their families. Please ask at your school for more information and to make a recommendation.

Breakfast clubs

Free places are available in all Council run and some private provider breakfast clubs. These can be allocated at the headteacher's discretion.

Help with clothing

School clothing grant

Clothing grants are provided by the local authority using the same criteria as free school meals. In Edinburgh, families can receive £120 for primary age children and £150 for secondary pupils towards school clothing. The Council pay clothing grants between July and 31st March for the following year. Families who qualify will receive a payment directly into their bank account. Apply for a school clothing grant

Edinburgh School Uniform Bank

The Edinburgh School Uniform Bank distribute bespoke packs of free, new school uniforms to hundreds of Edinburgh families each year, as well as supplying nearly-new uniforms to schools and community groups. To be referred to this service please ask in your child's school or speak to your family support worker, health visitor, youth worker or similar.

Kids Love Clothes

This charity provide a selection of clothes for each child referred. The clothes are ironed, folded and packaged into beautiful giftbags, ready for delivery. Giftbags are free, and the child receives quality clothes that have been put together with care and attention. Please speak to school if you would like a referral.

Edinburgh Police Fund For Children

This fund provides grants for warm Jackets and footwear to school aged children who are in need of assistance. The family must be resident in the City of Edinburgh. Online applications can be made by a third party e.g. Social Worker, Health Visitor, Community/District Nurse, Support Worker, Head/Guidance Teacher or through a voluntary organisation. School Branded garments are not funded.

The Edinburgh Clothing Store

The Edinburgh Clothing Store is a charity offering adult and children’s clothing, shoes, bedding, etc. for people in need. It's a free service. Ask at school if you would like a referral.

Help with housing and fuel 

Family and Household support

Family and Household support can help if you have a problem with your health and wellbeing, parenting, neighbour disputes, welfare benefits and housing. They can help you get in touch with the right people and make it much easier for you to access a whole range of services in the Council and across the community. There are four teams in Edinburgh. You can refer yourself or also be referred by someone else who is supporting you, like your GP, a social worker or a family member.

  • South East 0131 529 5123
  • South West 0131 469 5150
  • North East 0131 529 7168
  • North West 0131 529 5014

Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish Welfare Fund provides crisis grants for living expenses in the event of an emergency or disaster, and community care grants to enable and support independent living.

Applications can be made for essential items such as furniture, household equipment, travel costs, removal expenses, storage charges, connection charges for gas and electricity.

To find out more phone

0131 529 5299

or visit

Home Energy Scotland (HES)

HES can check your eligibility for special discounts from energy suppliers and help you with a benefits and tax credit check so you’re not missing out on additional income. In some cases, they can also help you access funding to improve your home’s energy efficiency so you can stay warm without breaking the bank. Visit

or phone

0808 808 2282

to talk to an advisor in confidence.

Temporary accommodation and homelessness

If you are a family that are homeless or living in temporary accommodation the Council has some funding to support children and young people to access education and support their wellbeing. Support can include help with digital devices, school meals, bus passes, counselling for parents and carers and access to sanitary products at home. For support please speak to your child's head teacher for primary aged children or their guidance teacher for high school aged children.

Fresh Start

Fresh Start is an Edinburgh based charity helping people who have been homeless get established in their new home. Working in partnership with volunteers and organisations from a broad section of the community, they deliver a range of services that provide the practical and social support that help people resettle successfully. They can help with starter packs of everyday household goods, larger appliances such as cooker, washing machine or fridge freezer, or If you are in the first twelve weeks of your tenancy, then their Hit Squad Service could help to decorate up to two rooms. They also have a shop and pantry to help with the cost of food and household items, cooking classes or gardening spaces.  

Help with benefits debt and advice 


Maximise! is a partnership between CHAI and Children 1st supported by the City of Edinburgh Council. They provide an all round service to pupils’ families to help improve relationships, increase confidence, support well-being and increase community links as well as providing advice to maximise your income, reduce debt, resolve housing issues and gain employment. To make an appointment, please contact your child’s school or phone CHAI on

0131 442 2100


CHAI helps and empowers people through high-quality, impartial advice on welfare benefits, housing and debt. The Advice team consists of specialist and generic advice workers and a small band of skilled volunteers. They deliver advice in a range of outreach locations city-wide including GP practices, mental health hubs, community centres, schools, libraries etc. Please discuss your requirements when booking an appointment. Appointments can be made by phoning

0131 442 1009

or visit

Advice Shop

The Advice Shop offer help with welfare rights including income maximisation, through welfare benefits, tax credits and grants. They also offer debt advice to resolve personal debt including credit cards, bank loans, rent arrears, personal loans, store cards, catalogues and mortgage arrears. If you need advice contact

0131 200 2360

or visit

Citizens Advice Edinburgh

Citizens Advice Edinburgh specialise in welfare rights, debt, budgeting, employment, housing, energy, immigration, consumer rights and health. They are city wide and have five bureaus and 13 outreach sites serving every locality. They also deliver the national Pensionwise and the patient advice and support services. Phone

0131 510 5510

or visit

Christians Against Poverty

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) specialise in providing community based debt help, with the option of appointments from the privacy and comfort of your own home. Through their person centred approach you'll be given the support you need, including emergency aid where needed, every step of the way to becoming debt free. To start your debt free journey contact

0800 328 0006  

Help with employment, training and childcare 

One Parent Families Scotland

One Parent Families Scotland is the leading charity working with single parent families in Scotland. They provide expert advice, practical support and campaign with parents to make their voices heard to change the systems, policies and attitudes that disadvantage single parent families. They work with and for single parent families, providing support services that enable them to achieve their potential and help create lasting solutions to the poverty and barriers facing many single parents and their children. For support please phone the Lone Parent helpline on

0808 801 0323

or visit

Employability Support for Edinburgh Parents

When you’re a parent, finding the right job can be a challenge. Perhaps you want to get back into work, take on more hours at a better rate of pay, or start vocational training or college? If so, there are lots of free Parental Employability Support (PES) projects around Edinburgh to help. Working 1 to 1 with a dedicated mentor, you’ll get the necessary support and expertise to take the next steps. You will have access to money advice to ensure you are in the strongest position possible when making decisions about the impact of a job or training on benefits and the cost of childcare. Priority will be given to those with multiple barriers to employment but all parents are encouraged to find out more about the parental employability support that is available. More information about each of the projects can be found at 

Making Work Work- For women returners

Making Work Work is a free 5 week online programme, funded by the Scottish Government. The programme supports women over 25 who have had a career break of 6 months or more to get back into ‘work that works’ around all the commitments and fun of life. The programme is aimed at women with management or leadership experience or aspirations, it offers a refresher on management content as well as practical matters such as preparing a CV. Participants are matched with a mentor, are invited to masterclasses and have access to an ever-growing network of women across Scotland. For more information contact 

Payment entitlements

Best Start grant

The Best Start grant school age payment is £250 to help with the costs of starting school.

If you have or are responsible for a child due to start school you can apply if you or your partner are entitled to

  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit

If you have a child aged between two and three and a half, you may also qualify for the Best Start grant early learning payment.

If you are at least 24 weeks pregnant or within six months of giving birth, you may also qualify for a Best Start grant pregnancy and baby payment.

Details on how to apply are below

Best Start Foods

Children whose parents are unable to claim benefits due to their immigration status are now eligible for Best Start Foods. Best Start Foods is paid via a pre-paid card which can be used to buy healthy foods in shops. Eligible parents and guardians will now be able to claim Best Start Foods if they meet all of the following conditions:

  • they're responsible for at least one child under three who’s a British citizen
  • their family income is £625 or less a month, after tax
  • they're not able to claim public funds due to their immigration status

Education Maintenance Allowance

An Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a weekly payment of £30 paid to a young person aged 16 to 19 year olds who stay on at school. It is paid during term time, but not during breaks. To qualify, households with one dependent child must be earning £24,421 per year or less, and households with more than one dependent child must be earning £26,884 or less, before tax. For more information please email

or visit

Child Disability payment

This benefit is for children aged between three months and 16 years who live with a disability. This benefit has two components, a care component which can be awarded as low, middle or high and a mobility component low and high. Qualifying for this payment can then entitle your family to other forms of grant, payment or benefit. Many families miss out on benefits because the application processes are complex and time consuming. For this reason, it may be beneficial to start with the support of a voluntary organisation such as Kindred for support. Phone Kindred on

0800 031 5793

or visit or visit

or more information.