Help from your local Council during coronavirus

Last updated: 18/03/2021

This section has information on essential supplies and emergency support, Free School Meals and crisis grants.

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

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.

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.

Essential supplies and emergency support

The Scottish Government has set up a national helpline for vulnerable people including those with mental health issues, disabilities and health conditions who do not already come under the shielding measures. Phone 0800 111 4000 and you will be connected to your local Council and directed to support services in your area, for help with essential supplies or support. More information.

If you rent from a Housing Association, you can phone to ask for help. Many Housing Associations can provide emergency food parcels and other support. 

Most food banks are still operating so if you need to get help with food contact a support worker to make a referral for you. 

If you do not have anyone who is helping you call the Lone Parent Helpline free on 0808 801 0323.

New Grant for those self- isolating

If you been asked to self-isolate, and are on a low income you may qualify for the new Self-Isolation Support Grant.

The new £500 Grant will help if you would lose income because you need to self-isolate, and are unable to work from home.

This grant is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of any the benefits below, there might be some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship.

  • universal credit
  • child tax credit
  • working tax credit
  • housing benefit
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income support
  • working tax credit.

Applications will be delivered through the Scottish Welfare Fund, from your local authority.

Free school meals

Your Council should now have systems in place to transfer money, Paypoint vouchers, vouchers for Farmfood shops, or to deliver meals or food parcels to families with children who are eligible for free school meals on income-based grounds. Usually eligibility is based on eligibility for school clothing grants. Many more children will now be eligible for these and parents should apply for these online via their Council website. In some Councils, parents need to opt in to get free school meals vouchers or food; in others this is automatic. 

Your council should have a process in place to allow you to continue to receive Free School Meals. Some are delivering meals or food parcels, but most are transferring money, Paypoint vouchers or vouchers for supermarkets. You will get these if your child gets a school clothing grant. If your income has dropped, you may now be eligible for a clothing grant- apply online. 

Check your Council’s contact details here.

Crisis grants

If you need urgent help to pay for essentials like food, gas or electricity because of coronavirus, you could apply for a Crisis Grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund, through your local Council. Read more about crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

If you need further advice, call the Lone Parent Helpline free on 0808 801 0323.