The COVID winter 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 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
- is in early learning and childcare (nursery)
- 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 24 December 2020 if you:
- qualify automatically
- were getting free school meals on 30 November 2020
You should get the payment by the middle of January 2021 if you:
- qualified for free school meals after 30 November 2020
- applied after 30 November 2020
If you do not get the payment by 24 December 2020 and think you qualify you should contact your local council for more information. This is unless you applied or qualified for school meals after 30 November 2020.
What you can spend the money on
The payment is there to help support you over the winter months. There's no rules on what you need to spend it on but it could be used for things like:
- heating and electricity
- other essentials
- Christmas presents
Your local council is dealing with the payments.
Check your local council's website for more information or to contact someone about the payment.