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Financial help during the school holidays

  • 25/07/2018

This article is over a year old

What schemes offer support over the holidays?

Empty classroom

Almost half the year is taken up by non-school days. During this time, parents have to find the money for nearly six months of extra food, childcare and activities.

However there are a number of schemes that may be able to help with the added costs.


The loss of Free School Meals during the school holidays can cost a family £30-40 per week. Yet, Holiday Hunger Task Group research from 2016 shows there were 428 projects in the UK helping to provide fun and food for children during the holidays.

These include:

Trussell Trust Holiday Clubs – A Holiday Club provides breakfast and lunch as well as a variety of fun activities for families on low incomes.

FareShare – FareShare has launched #ActiveAte, a nationwide holiday hunger campaign providing meals for children at risk of food poverty during the summer.

Make Lunch – The Transforming Lives for Good (TLG) Make Lunch scheme enables and equips local churches to provide lunch clubs to children during the holidays.

Accord Group – Holiday Kitchen offers families in Birmingham community meals throughout the year in collaboration with Birmingham City University.

Lunch Box – Footprints in the Community, a charity in Redcar, provide packed lunched to local children three times a week during August.

Achieve More Scotland (AMS) – This Glasgow charity runs holiday clubs to help children get physical activity and nutritious food every day.

Welsh Government Food and Fun Clubs – The School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) programme provides healthy meals to children in areas of deprivation in Wales during the summer holidays.

Mayor's Fund for London – Kitchen Social is a scheme run for children from low-income London households during the holidays where they can socialise and get a healthy meal.

Holiday help

Some charities offer help with the costs of a holiday. Whether it’s a subsidised camping trip or a free respite break, there are a few organisations and schemes that can help you find what is available.

The Turn2us Grants Search – Our easy to use online tool is a great starting point when looking for all sorts of funding.

Care for the Family – The ‘Take a Break’ scheme offer bursary places for people receiving Income Support or Housing Benefit.

The Outward Bound Trust – An educational charity that offers adventure courses. You can apply through the Adventure Fund if you can't afford the prices, You can also pay with childcare vouchers at their Ullswater Centre.

CHICKS – The national children’s charity provide free respite breaks to children aged 8-15 from all over the UK.

Family Holiday Association – The Family Holiday Association provide British seaside breaks and day trips to families struggling on low incomes.

Kings Camps – The charity's Supporting Families programme offers subsidised places to children during the holidays.

The Mary Macarthur Holiday Trust – The Trust gives financial assistance towards holidays for women who are in need.

Women’s Holiday Centre – Horton Women’s Holiday Centre provide affordable holidays for women and children,

YHA Summer Camps – The YHA Family Support Programme can give breaks to children and their families who fit their criteria.

Childcare costs

Your entitlement to childcare will not change over the school holidays. There are a number of childcare schemes to help you with the cost.

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits – In order to receive this you must meet the qualifying rules for Working Tax Credit and make a claim.

Tax Free Childcare – You can get up to £500 every three month for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. For every £8 you pay your childcare provider, the Government will pay £2. However, you can't get Tax Free Childcare if you get tax credits or Universal Credit. If you are receiving these benefits, you will lose them if you claim Tax Free Childcare and you are unlikely to be better off in doing so.

15 and 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds – All children of this age will get 570 free hours per year; some are eligible for 1,140 hours.

Childcare vouchers – Employers can take up to £55 a week of your wages as childcare vouchers, which you do not pay tax or national insurance on.

Free childcare for two year olds – Your two year old can get free early education and childcare if you live in England and are eligible.

Universal Credit – You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit.

Help while you study – If you are in school or sixth form, you could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you’re under 20 at the start of a publicly-funded course. You may also be able to apply for Discretionary Learner Support or a Childcare Grant.

A number of additional schemes to provide free holiday activities and meals for disadvantaged children will be run by Children North East, Family Action, Feeding Britain, Birmingham Holiday Kitchen, Onside Youth Zones, Street Games and TLG (Transforming Lives for Good).

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