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 below.

Cost of Living Crisis Support Scotland 

A new Scottish Government website has been launched to signpost advice and financial support available to people in Scotland. The website includes information about support with:

  • increasing energy bills
  • Scottish and UK social security payments and benefits
  • support with housing costs
  • payments for families
  • where to get further advice, benefit calculators, wider health and wellbeing information

For further information please visit the Scottish Government cost of living page and the Council cost of living page.

Help to access free period products 

Local authorities across the country have been given a budget to provide free period products, plastic-free tampons and pads in public buildings. Edinburgh Council has rolled this out to a range of buildings across the city, e.g., libraries, Community Centres, Edinburgh Leisure, schools, further education colleges, museums, and galleries. Reusable period cups can also be found in libraries and community centres and reusable pants and pads will be piloted with a view to making them widely accessible. These should be easily available to pick up near the door and in toilets, to respect privacy. 

Help with food

Fresh Start Community Meet and Eats 

This is a two-course hot meal provided weekly on Friday afternoons from 12 to 2 pm. There is no referral process, it is for anyone who needs it at: 

Fresh Start 

28-30 Ferry Road Drive  

EH4 4BR 

For more information call 

0131 476 7741 

Fresh Start Souper Tuesdays 

Enjoy a bowl of soup and a filled roll and a chat between 11 am and 1 pm every week. There is no referral process, it is for anyone who needs it at: 

Fresh Start 

28-30 Ferry Road Drive  

EH4 4BR 

For more information call 

0131 476 7741 

Free School Meals/ Clothing Grant/ Holiday Payments 

Free school meals are universal from P1 – P5. However, families who qualify for free school meals will also be entitled to clothing grants, holiday payments and other supports. 

Your child may be entitled to free school meals/ clothing grant if you get any of the following: 

  • 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 £16,190 

  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit) 

  • Universal Credit – (if you apply on or after 1 April 2018, your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits) 

  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 

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.

Holiday and Food Programme 

If you qualify for Free School Meals/ Clothing Grant/ Holiday Payments, you may also qualify for Holiday Activity and Food Programme for primary school children. Please contact your children’s primary school for more information and to make a recommendation. 

Food banks

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

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 provides meals and activities for primary school-aged children and their families. Please ask your school for more information and to make a recommendation.

Breakfast clubs

Free places are available in all Council runs 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 pays 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 distributes 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 provides a selection of clothes for each child referred. The clothes are ironed, folded and packaged into beautiful gift bags, ready for delivery. Gift bags are free, and the child receives quality clothes that have been put together with care and attention. Please speak to the school if you would like a referral. 

Visit for more information

Edinburgh Police Fund For Children

This fund provides grants for warm Jackets and footwear to school-aged children who need assistance. The family must be residents of 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 organization. School-branded garments are not funded.

Visit for more information 

Edinburgh and Lothian Trust General Fund for Families 

This Trust's funds are restricted to beneficiaries who reside in the City of Edinburgh or the Lothians. Applications for grants must be submitted by a post holder from a referring partner e.g., a local authority social worker, family support workers, or housing officers. Applications will not be accepted directly from members of the public. The maximum grant awarded is £300 for white goods, and a maximum of £200 for items of baby equipment, furniture, clothing & footwear, small electrical items, bedding and pre-payment electricity and gas cards up to a maximum of £100.

Visit for more information 

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 energy bills 

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. 

To apply for a grant, you need to be: 

  • 16 or over 

  • On a low income or receiving benefits (Universal Credit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Pension Credit) 

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 about please phone 

0131 529 5299 

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 HES website for more information or contact

0808 808 2282

to talk to an advisor in confidence.

Fuel Bank Foundation 

Helping homes in fuel crisis. Fuel Bank can offer advice for people struggling to pay their energy bills or top up their prepaid meter.  

Visit the Fuel Bank Foundation website for more information.

Help with housing 

Family and Household support

Family and Household support can help if you have a problem with your health and well-being, 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

Visit our Family and Household Support page for more information. 

Tenant Hardship Fund 

Many people struggle with rising costs, if you're having difficulties paying your rent contact the Tenant Hardship Fund. They can help by 

  • referring you for money and debt advice 

  • helping you to apply for benefits and funding to help pay rent 

  • setting up a repayment plan. 

A Tenant Hardship Fund has been set up to help tenants, including those who cannot access benefits. If you’re struggling to pay your rent, speak to your housing officer or contact  to see if they can help. 

Temporary accommodation and homelessness

If you are a family that is homeless or living in temporary accommodation in the City of Edinburgh, 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 headteacher 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 homes. 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 helps people resettle successfully. They can help with starter packs of everyday household goods, and larger appliances such as cookers, washing machines or fridge freezers, 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. 

Visit the Fresh Start website for more information. 

Edinburgh Fire Fund

This is a dedicated fund that can help residents in Edinburgh recover from the impact of a fire. Applicants must be in receipt of income-related benefits or earn less than a living wage and not have a valid house contents insurance policy. The fund can help to replace household contents, essential belongings and clothing damaged or destroyed by fire or smoke damage. the application must be completed online and verified by a professional from a recognised third party e.g. housing officer, support worker etc. The fund is not designed for crisis funding.

For more information or to apply, visit the Edinburgh Fire Fund website.

Help with benefits debt and advice 

Benefit Calculators 

You can use one of these independent benefit calculators to find out: 

  • what benefits you could get 

  • how to claim 

  • how your benefits will be affected if you start work 

For more information visit the Benefit Calculators website


Maximise! is a partnership between CHAI and Children 1st supported by the City of Edinburgh Council. They provide a 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.

For more information visit the Maximise! website and 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 CHAI website or phone

0131 442 1009

Advice Shop

The Advice Shop offers 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 visit the Advice Shop website or contact

0131 200 2360

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 patient advice and support services. 

For more information visit the Citizens Advice Edinburgh website or contact

0131 510 5510

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 visit the Christians Against Poverty website or contact

0800 328 0006

Whole Family Equality Project

This project aims to address poverty and inequality within ethnic minority communities in Edinburgh. The project aims to provide holistic support to help families improve their finances, health and wellbeing, and increase children’s positive participation in school life and educational attainment. The project will also work closely with families who want to move into work or improve their work or career pathway.

For more information visit the Whole Family Equality Project website.

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, and 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 visit the One Parent Families Scotland website or phone the Lone Parent helpline on

0808 801 0323

Childcare Connector Service

This service provided by One Parent Family Scotland can help parents to identify childcare such as a nursery, childminder, and school clubs as well as offer help with how to pay for it. It can be challenging to combine work or education with parenting responsibilities. This service aims to overcome childcare barriers by supporting parents to find funding, understand how benefits might be affected and get through the first month of a new job when money is tight.

By having the right childcare, parents can reach their goals, achieve financial independence and take an equal part in the community. All parents in Edinburgh can access the service, priority will be given to single parents and parents with disabilities, long-term health conditions and mental ill health.

For more details contact

07810 850830

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 on the Edinburgh Guarantee website.

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 visit the Making Work Work website or contact

Job Start Payment

This is a one-off payment of £252.50 available to young people in Scotland who are on certain benefits and need help with the costs of starting a new job. If the person has a child, they could get £404. A person must meet all of the criteria below to be eligible:

  • are 16 to 24 years old; or are a care leaver aged 16 to 25
  • live in Scotland on the day of the job offer
  • have a job offer for paid employment
  • the job must average 12 hours or more per week, over a 4-week period.
  • It doesn’t need to be a permanent job
  • Be out of paid work and in receipt of a qualifying benefit for 6 months or more, or if a care leaver is out of paid work and in receipt of a qualifying benefit at the time of the job offer (care leavers do not need to receive a qualifying benefit for 6 months).

To apply online visit the Benefits webpage or to complete the application over the phone or request a paper application form call freephone on 0800 182 2222

Child payment and grant entitlements 

Scottish Child Payment  

Scottish Child Payment – A payment of £100 every 4 weeks for each eligible child under the age of 6. 

For more information or apply visit the Scottish Child Payment website.

Best Start Pregnancy, Baby, Early Learning and School Age Grants and Payments 

Parents on tax credits or certain benefits could be entitled to five family payments.

  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment- A £606 payment for a first child and £303 for other children. Plus an extra £303 if you have a multiple birth. You can apply from 24 weeks of pregnancy until your baby is 6 months old.
  • Best Start Grant Early Learning Payment- A £252.50 payment when a child is between the ages of 2 and 3.5 years. You can still apply if your child is not taking up a place at the nursery.
  • Best Start Grant School Age Payment - A £252.50 payment to help eligible families with the costs of starting school. For application dates and guidance on when to apply even if you are deferring visit the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods webpage.
  • Best Start Foods- Money every 4 weeks on a pre-paid card from pregnancy until your child is 3 years old.

Check if you are eligible and apply now on the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods webpage or call 0800 182 2222.

Social Security Scotland Local Support

Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery Client Support Advisers can support people in applying for Social Security payments they are entitled. Advisers will answer any queries about Social Security Scotland benefits, help complete paper or online application forms, and offer other support including help with submitting a change of circumstances information. Support will be by appointment only in local community venues or in people’s homes, hospitals and prisons via video call or telephone appointment.

For more information visit the Social Security Scotland Local Support webpage.

To book an appointment with a Client Support Adviser contact Social Security Scotland on

0800 182 2222.

Education Maintenance Allowance

An Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a weekly payment of £30 paid to a young person aged 16 to 19 years old who stays 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 visit the Education Maintenance Allowance webpage  or email

Young Carer Grant 

Young carers may be eligible for Young Carer Grant if they meet certain criteria such as they live in Scotland, are aged 16 to 18, and have been providing care for an average of 16 hours a week, for the last three months. The support they provide may be physical, mental or emotional. The young person can apply if they are at school, in further education, employed or unemployed and they can decide how they wish to spend the the yearly payment of £359.65.

For more information or to complete an application over the phone or request a paper application visit the Young Carer Grant website or call freephone 0800 182 2222.

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.

For more information visit the Kindred-Scotland website or phone Kindred on

0800 031 5793

Visit the Child Disability Payment webpage to read more details.