A new school year brings added pressure on household budgets. Find out about help available with school costs.

Free school meals

The help you can get with school lunches varies depending on how old your children are and if you claim benefits. Children in Reception, Year 1 and 2 automatically get free school meals. For older children, you can apply for free school meals if you claim certain types of benefits, including Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit and Income Support. To find out more, and apply online, visit the Hertfordshire County Council website, or telephone the Hertfordshire County Council Educational Benefits Team on 0300 123 4048.


If your children are aged between five to 16, Hertfordshire County Council might offer free or lower cost transport if you don’t live near school, you’re on a low income, or if your child can’t walk to school because of special educational needs or disabilities. However very few children are eligible and Hertfordshire County Council will contact you directly if you are entitled to free transport.

11-19 year olds can apply on www.hertfordshire.gov.uk for a Hertfordshire SaverCard which gives them half price bus travel.

Uniforms and other costs

Hertfordshire County Council do not help with uniform costs. Talk to your child’s school to see if they can help, and to ask about finding second-hand uniforms.

If you’re on a low income, you may be able to get help with costs such as music lessons, trips and activities. You’re likely to be considered to be on a low income if you get means-tested benefits like Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit. Talk to your school to find out more.

Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you need more specific support or don’t feel able to manage your situation alone, call us at Citizens Advice Watford on freephone 0800 144 8848, or visit our drop-in Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 12.30pm.