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COVID spring hardship payment

The COVID spring hardship payment is £100 for each child who gets free school meals because of low income.

Who can get the payment

You can get the payment if you meet the eligibility criteria for free school meals. This is usually because you're on a low income or getting certain benefits.

Check the full eligibility criteria for free school meals if you're not sure.

You might also get the payment if you're experiencing financial hardship. For example, if:

  • you're waiting on your first Universal Credit payment
  • your child gets free lunches in Early Learning and Childcare (nursery) because you're on a low income or getting certain benefits
  • your immigration status means you cannot get help from the government

Who will not get the payment

You'll not get the payment if your child:

  • gets universal free school meals in primary 1 to 3 (primary 4 in some schools) and you do not meet the eligibility criteria
  • does not go to a council school
  • is home educated

How to get the payment

Your local council will make any payment.

If your child gets free school meals because you're on a low income and get a qualifying benefit you do not need to apply for it. Your local council will make the payment to you automatically.

You need to apply for free school meals to get the payment if you meet the eligibility criteria for them and:

  • you've never applied before or had help with school meals during the school holidays
  • your child gets universal free school meals in primary 1 to 3 (primary 4 in some schools)

Contact your local council to apply for school meals and get the payment.

How it gets paid

For most people, you'll get a payment into your bank account if the council has a record of your bank details. For example, if you've had a clothing grant payment.

But you might get the payment in a different way if:

  • the council does not have your bank details
  • you do not have a bank account

In this case how the payment is made depends on your local council. But this could be a pre-paid card.

When you'll get the payment

You should get the payment by 7 April 2021 if your child is of school age and was getting Free School Meals on 16 February 2021.

You should get the payment by the end of April 2021 if your child is newly registered or of pre-school age.

What you can spend the money on

The payment is there to help support you financially. There's no rules on what you need to spend it on but it could be used for things like:

  • food
  • heating and electricity
  • other essentials

Further help

Your local council is dealing with the payments.

Check your local council's website for more information or to contact someone about the payment.

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