Free school meals and help with schoolwear

Application - FAQs

Applying for free school meals and school clothing grants

Why have I had a letter about renewing free school meals and/or school clothing grants?

A renewal letter has been sent to everyone who has applied before, and to people who may be entitled based on the information we hold on their housing benefit or council tax reduction.

What are the qualifying criteria?

Find information about the qualifying criteria.

How can I renew or apply?

Make an application using our online form.

Do I need to make separate applications for free school meals and a clothing grant?

No, the application gathers all the information we need to check if you’re entitled to both.

How long will it take for my application to be processed?

Applications are assessed in July. Any applications received after July will normally take around 2 weeks to be assessed depending on the number of people applying at the time.

Who pays for free school meals and a clothing grant if my child goes to school in the Borders, but we don’t live in here?

You can apply for free school meals, but you’ll not be considered for a clothing grant.  If you need help with school clothing, you’ll need to apply to the local authority where you live.

Who pays free school meals and a clothing grant if we live in the Borders, but my child attends a school in another local authority area?

We won’t award free school meals or clothing grants for a child who doesn’t go to school in this area, unless they go to a special needs school.

What if I don’t have my tax credits award letter by the time the new school term starts?

Before you apply you can take a screenshot of your tax credit account on the Government Website and upload it when you’re completing your online application. 

You can also email it to

If you can’t get the evidence before you apply, still make the application as soon as possible and send us proof of your tax credits later. 

We won’t be able to process your application until we have the evidence.

I was expecting to receive a free school meals and/or a clothing grant but they haven’t been awarded?

If you haven’t made an application yet, complete our online form as soon as possible.

If you’ve already applied and think you should have received payment by now, contact our Customer Advice and Support Service.

Can I apply for a school clothing grant if I’ve just moved to the Scottish Borders?

Yes, you can apply, but if you’ve already received a clothing grant for the current academic year from another local authority we can’t pay you another grant.


Customer Advice and Support Service

Address: Council Headquarters
Newtown St. Boswells

Telephone: 0300 100 1800