Help with school holiday costs

The summer holiday can be a costly time of year for families. Children being at home, and the need to find extra childcare, can put extra burden on budgets.



Help with childcare costs  

You can get help through benefits for Ofsted-registered childcare, which might include holiday camps and other holiday activities. You can check online if childcare is registered with Ofsted

You can check what benefits you can get using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator.  

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits – you must meet the qualifying rules for Working Tax Credit to be able to make a claim of childcare element.  

Tax Free Childcare – You can get up to £500 every three months 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’re receiving these benefits, you will lose them if you claim Tax Free Childcare and you are unlikely to be better off in doing so. 

Free childcare for three and four year olds - families are eligible for free childcare for certain number of hours and weeks. There are different schemes and rules depending on which country you live in the UK.  

Free childcare for two year olds – your two year old can get free early education and childcare. Check if this is available in the country you live in the UK.  

Childcare vouchers – This scheme is closed but if you joined a childcare voucher scheme on or before 4 October 2018, you might be able to keep getting vouchers.  

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 to help with childcare costs 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 Learner Support if you’re 20 or over and in further education or you can apply for a Childcare Grant if you’re in full-time higher education.  

Help with food  

The government has given local councils extra money to help people who are struggling with the cost of living – contact your council to find out if they can support you.  There are different holiday schemes in the different countries of the UK. 

Nationwide schemes

Some national charities have schemes and programmes across the UK that provide lunch clubs and food related activities, such as FareShareMake Lunch, FeedingBritain 

Food banks 

If you are struggling to afford enough food to eat, you may be able to get help from a food bank. 

Each food bank will be different in the services it provides and how you access them. However, you will usually get a voucher from a local referral partner (often Citizens Advice, health and social care professionals and/or local charities). Check what you need with the food bank you want to use.

To find your local food bank, see the following websites:


Local councils in England will be running the holiday activities and food (HAF) programme for 2024/25. This programme provides free healthy food and holiday activities for children throughout the summer months. Contact your council to find out more. 


You may be able to get help with school meals during school holidays in 2024/25. Families who get free school meals during term time will automatically receive payments of £2.50 per day, per child during the summer holidays. You need to contact your local council to find out how to apply.  

Northern Ireland 

The School Holiday Food Grant in Northern Ireland ended in 2023 and wasn't renewed for 2024/25.

Some local councils support Social Supermarket initiatives, which provide food, cleaning products, and toiletries at lower prices or through membership fees. Social Supermarkets are normally based within community organisations, and you usually need a referral to use them. Contact your local council to find out if there is a Social Supermarket in your area.  


Contact your council to find out if there’s any help available in your area.  

Help with activities 

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

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

Find holiday clubs – You can search for holiday play schemes in your area. They can be run by a school, or a private or voluntary organisation.  

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.  

Go Beyond - A national charity giving free breaks to children and young people aged 8-13 across the UK. A referral is needed from an individual working with young people in a professional capacity. 

Family Holiday Charity – This charity provides British seaside breaks to families struggling on low incomes. 

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

Horton Women’s Holiday Centre – This centre provides affordable holidays for women and children. 

‘Food and Fun’ School Holiday Enrichment Programme in Wales – A school-based education programme that provides food and nutrition education, physical activity, enrichment sessions and healthy meals to children during the school summer holidays.  

Summer Reading challenge – Children can sign up online or at their local library for a summer reading challenge. 

Other schemes/programmes that provide free holiday activities and means for disadvantaged children are run by Family ActionFeeding BritainOnside Youth ZonesStreet GamesTLG (Transforming Lives for Good).  

This time of the year can be costly for families and can affect your mental health. If you’re struggling, you may be able to find mental health support in your area

Check benefit entitlement

Find out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, including tax credits.

Use the Benefits Calculator