Financial help for families in need

More than £14 million awarded to low income households.

A total of 144,128 COVID Winter Hardship Payments have been made to families.

The payments are available to families with children receiving Free School Meals on the basis of low income, with £14.41 million given to households as part of the Scottish Government’s Winter Plan for Social Protection.

A one-off payment of £100 was made, by local authorities, for each eligible child in receipt of Free School Meals between 30 November and the start of the winter holidays.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“We know that many families are struggling financially due to the pandemic, whether through lost earnings, increased food costs or simply needing to run their heating more. This additional payment will hopefully have helped ease the strain they are facing.

“We have now provided over £50 million in additional funding to local authorities to continue the provision of Free School Meals during school closures, periods of online learning and holidays from the summer, and we are committed to do so through the forthcoming Easter holidays.

“The provision of Free School Meals outside of term time and the £100 payment are just two of the ways we’re working to support people and communities. We have invested over £500 million to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic, which includes a £22 million increase to our Scottish Welfare Fund and considerable investment in support provided by community and third sector organisations.

“With our Scottish Child Payment also due to start next week, we are showing our commitment to tackling poverty and inequality through this pandemic and beyond.”


The £100 million Winter Plan for Social Protection was developed to mitigate social harms posed by the concurrent risks of COVID-19, winter cost of living increases and EU exit, as well as to promote equality and human rights.

Families are eligible for their children to receive Free School Meals, on the basis of low income, if they receive certain benefits or their local council considers they are facing financial hardship. Further information on eligibility and how to register can be found at School meals -

Funding for Free School Meals has been provided as follows:

April - June 2020: £15 million - remote learning

July - Sept 2020: £12.6 million - summer holidays

Oct 2020 - March 2021: £6.95 million - Oct, Christmas and Feb holidays

Jan 2021: £7.057 million – remote learning

Feb 2021: £5.841 million – remote learning

April 2021: £4.29 million - Easter holidays

This funding has enabled local authorities to ensure that every eligible child has continued to receive a free school meal alternative – direct payment, voucher or food parcel – throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information on the COVID Winter Hardship Payment can be found at: COVID winter hardship payment (£100 per child) -


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