Please note: This grant stream is open to charities or local groups looking to set up a uniform bank in their community. We cannot give grants to individuals, individual schools or businesses.
If you are struggling financially and need help with uniform for your children there are existing uniform banks in Lowestoft, Felixstowe and Beccles. Details are available online. Your school may also be able to help.
If you cannot access support in this way please visit our Ease the Squeeze on cost of living pages for information on other help available or to self-refer to our Community Help team.
The average cost per year of a primary school uniform is £315 and for a secondary school uniform it is £316 (The Children’s Society). The cost is higher for children in schools that enforce a particular supplier or branded uniform. It is possible to get generic uniform from a supermarket where allowed but including shoes, PE kit and bags the basic cost is still likely to be in excess of £70. Children may be involved in clubs at no cost but these often require additional equipment such as football boots, shin guards etc.
In November 2021 the government released Statutory Guidance under the Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Act 2021 which schools have to give due regard to. This guidance includes schools being asked to keep branded items to a minimum and to move away from single supplier contracts. It recommends that high priority is given to cost and value and that schools supply second hand uniform to those that need it. In reality adherence to this guidance varies across the area, some schools have a great supply of school uniform or will supply vouchers to parents in need whereas others have no supply (often due to lack of storage space) and rely on charities to help.
Under the Education Act 1990, local authorities have the power to provide financial help to parents on low incomes to assist them with buying school clothing for their children. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have nationwide schemes administered by the local or education authority. In England it is at the discretion of the local authority and must be taken from existing budgets. East Suffolk Council is committed to supporting children and young people to have the best education experience possible and has therefore allocated funding to support with essential uniform and equipment needs through uniform banks.
The aim is to either open a uniform bank or support/expand current provision in each of the eight Community Partnership areas, with the flexibility to adapt opening times/days to fit with community need, including provision for working people. The scheme will run by asking for donations of new or clean, good quality second hand uniform. It may also be possible to develop relationships with local retailers, as has happened in Lowestoft, who can run donation sites and match donations. People can then access the uniform, for which there is no/minimal charge, by attending open sessions or contacting the provider.
This model means that children whose families are on a low income are able to participate in the life of the school in an equal way to their peers. It also prevents clothing waste. A report published by Censuswide for MyNametags in January 2022 stated that 1.4 million items of school uniform are thrown away each year, that’s 354 tonnes of waste, the majority of which is plastic.
We are aware that rural areas are particularly challenging when it comes to accessing affordable uniform. Local shops are often more expensive and transport is difficult. We would ask the organisations to work with local schools where needed, either supplying items the school can distribute or running drop in sessions on the school site.
Participating organisations will be encouraged to expand into interview clothing and/or prom wear if they have the capacity and feel there is a need within their community. The organisations will be encouraged to engage with families so that they might access further support if required. Partnerships could be formed with organisations such as the Citizens Advice and Foodbanks.
The uniform bank will be funded to provide vouchers to be used towards shoes and personal items of £20 per child to families in severe financial distress (not all uniform bank attendees) and for one set of labels to prevent items being lost.
East Suffolk Council aim to commission a school uniform bank in each Community Partnership areas where there isn’t current provision. We will provide funding to cover start up costs and a voucher scheme for items that are difficult to get second hand, for example shoes, shirts and blazers. In Community Partnership areas where there is already provision, we will offer smaller grants so that they can also offer the voucher scheme.
We will provide start up funding, as detailed below, but the host organisation will cover any staffing/volunteer and venue costs. Each project will need to be self-sustainable after Year One, with continued non-financial support from the council.
Any grant you receive must be used to pay for setup costs.
An example is given below but projects may vary
Grants are available of up to £3000 per application.
Please note that this fund can only support Uniform Bank start up and not any other provision. There are other funds that may be able to support with these projects at East Suffolk, Suffolk and national levels.
What we ask of you:
The following priorities have been identified by East Suffolk Council and all applicants must ensure that their application provides evidence about how it meets as many of the priorities as possible:
The fund is available to independent, place-based groups who are located within the geographical area of East Suffolk.
Individual profit-making businesses will not be eligible to apply, however, businesses are encouraged to work with respective town/parish councils and/or business groups – and if businesses are able to offer venues free of charge that would fulfil the location requirement for an organisation and/or electrical items, this would be very much appreciated.
Please be aware that all applicants are expected to complete the subsidy declaration within.
If you would like to access funding through the East Suffolk Ease the Squeeze programme for a uniform bank please complete our online Uniform Bank grant scheme application form. Once completed and signed (an electronic signature is fine), please send your completed application to:email@example.com
If the application is fully complete (i.e. all the required information is provided) it will be considered by a panel which will be as soon as possible after the grant deadline below. See the diagram below for more information on the application process.
The deadline for the first round of applications is 31 August 2023. If we do not receive applications for all desired areas then there will be further rounds in the future.
If your application is successful, you will be notified of the decision through a Grant Acceptance (via email) within 5 working days of the Panel assessing your application.
Funds through this grant scheme should only be spent on the items/purpose detailed in the application form and Grant Acceptance and within 6 months of the date of the grant acceptance. All funding must be allocated within a 6 month period but of course we recognise that our contribution is part of a longer-term project which may be match-funded from elsewhere and funding may be available in future years. You must indicate on your form if you have applied for or intend to apply for match funding for this project. If the grant is not spent on the approved purposes or there is an underspend, the Council has the authority to reclaim part or all of the grant. If you are proposing to make any changes to your approved project, please inform us as soon as possible. If the changes are significant enough not to meet the key criteria for the project funding may be reclaimed.
An evaluation and monitoring form will be sent for completion after 6 months to ascertain the impact that the project/activity had. Returning this form to us is one of the grant conditions. Please keep copies of receipts and invoices related to the project/activity – we may ask to see these as part of our monitoring process as we spot check a proportion of successful applications.
Applications will be scored as per the scoring matrix below, along with consideration given to the location of the asset. This is to ensure equitable access to grant funding for people across the District and to prevent duplication of provision in more localised areas.
|Strong projects will have...
|Weak projects will have...
|Have the physical space for a uniform bank for a minimum period of 2 years
|A building with open access to a room in a secure, well-insulated building with good facilities – toilets, wifi, access to powerpoints, chairs, central heating, etc - that can be accessed easily by the local community.
|A difficult to access room in an insecure building with limited facilities or an insecure tenancy.
|Have a minimum starting volunteer team of 3 people and a plan for volunteer recruitment
|A committed, well managed and trained volunteer base, ideally also involved in other community or food based projects, used to working with people facing hardship or distress and able to regularly to commit to sessions to allow continuity. A well thought out plan for future volunteer recruitment, training and retention.
|No or few volunteers. Inability to evidence volunteer management and training plans.
|Realistic and informed about the practicalities of running a scheme
|Good evidence of understanding of dealing with donations, physical assets, publicity campaigns and potentially vulnerable applicants. This may be by the organisation or co-ordinator/volunteers as individuals that can bring it to the project.
|Little evidence of understanding of dealing with donations, physical assets, publicity campaigns and potentially vulnerable customers, from either the organisation or staff/volunteers as individuals that can bring it to the project.
|Engage with statutory, voluntary and community partners to develop the YLP scheme.
|Good evidence of experience of working in partnership with other organisations; voluntary sector, councils (parish/town, district or county), health providers, faith groups and more and a commitment to do so during this project.
|Little evidence of partnership working and little commitment to do so in the future. Antagonistic relationships with other local organisations.