A NEW school year means a long list of things to pay for – uniforms, school lunches, after-school clubs.
Another big expense can be getting your child to and from school.
With the new term starting on September 1, we tell you who qualifies for free transport and how to get it.
Who is eligible?
According to the gov.uk website, all children between the ages of 5 and 16 qualify for free school transport if:
- They go to their nearest suitable school
- They’re under eight-years-old, and live two miles from school
- They’re eight or older and live three miles from school
- There is no safe walking route home
Children from low-income families may also be eligible – this includes kids entitled to free school meals, and families receiving the maximum Working Tax Credit.
Still, there are criteria to meet:
- They’re aged eight to 11 and the school is at least 2 miles away
- Aged 11 to 16 and the school’s 2 to 6 miles away – as long as there are less than 3 suitable schools nearer to home
- Between the age of 11 and 16, and their school is 2 to 15 miles away – plus, if it’s their nearest preferred faith school
Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or mobility problems are also entitled to free transport, no matter the distance.
How do I sign up?
Your local council is responsible for free transport to and from school.
Each has its own system, but typically children are given a free bus pass – this can only be used to go to and from school, and on school days.
Or they are given a seat on a council vehicle, like a school bus.
To get it, put your postcode in on the government website – this will show your local council’s process for getting free transport.
You’ll need a passport-style photo of your little one, and potentially your free school meals pass if this applies.
Processing your application can take around a month – but if school starts before your pass is ready, you can claim back your travel costs.
A helping hand
If you’re worried about the cost of your kid’s uniform, you may be able to claim up to £150 to help.
The school uniform grant gives extra money and support to households on benefits – and the amount is dependent on where you live.
But it is not a statutory duty in England, meaning councils decide whether to offer support, who is eligible, and what items they’ll pay for.
Again, use the government website to work out which local authority you fall under, and what they offer.
Parents worrying about childcare may also be able to get some extra support.
All three to four-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free childcare – usually taken as 15 hours per week – for 38 weeks of the year.
Some families may be entitled to get 30-hours free childcare, but this is dependent on if you’re working, your income, your child’s age, their circumstances, and your immigration status.
Income help is available in the form of the Child Benefit – a grant available to parents responsible for bringing up a child under 16, or under 20 and still in education or training.
Parents get £21.50 for their eldest or only child. For additional children, they’ll receive £14 per child.
It’s paid every four weeks and can be claimed for any number of children.
For parents worrying about childcare for half term, here are the schemes and grants that could help keep costs down.
New mums can get £152 a week – even if they don’t have a job – thanks to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
And thousands of shoppers can save up to £5.25 on their grocery bills with these vouchers.
Source: The Sun