Support for families

As the cost of living increases and the colder months continue, we know that some families 
will be feeling the financial strain. To support families during this time, a range of programmes and funding packages have been made available. 

Local Support Payments 

If you are in urgent need of support, you may be eligible for a Local Support Payment. We can also consider store vouchers for food. This is a discretionary scheme and decisions are based on each individual case.

You can claim for a Local Support Payment if you:

  • Are claiming a qualifying benefit, or are about to claim one because you are leaving care or an institution such as hospital or prison.
  • Live in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea or Westminster, or have been housed elsewhere by one of these boroughs, in temporary accommodation.
  • Do not have too much in savings and have had an event or crisis. We can only consider two awards/crisis events in any 12 months.

The Local Support Payment phone line, 020 7745 6464 is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Outside of these hours, you can apply online for Local Support Payments.

If you do not qualify for a Local Support Payment, we have compiled a list of other help and advice services.

Free School Meals 

Throughout the winter holidays, children on free school meals will receive £20 per week food vouchers to ensure they remain well fed while away from their usual school dinners. Vouchers will be provided to children via their schools and can be spent at supermarkets.

Hot meals are also available through the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme that runs over Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays. The Government-funded initiative provides free activities and food for children aged four to 16 who are eligible for free school meals. Parents with children on free school meals are encouraged to register for a HAF place during the winter holidays to help their youngsters remain active and entertained, and to ensure they receive a free meal in a warm environment.

A huge range of activities and events to join in with are all catalogued on the Our City website, where you can register your child’s place.

Mayor of London Universal Free School Meals 2023 to 2024

Following an announcement made by the Mayor of London, from September 2023, all primary school children in state-funded schools in London will automatically get free school meals for the 2023 to 2024 academic year. This could save families around £440 per child across the year. For more information, visit Mayor of London - Free School Meals.

Primary school children will automatically get their free school meal whether their parent or carer gets a qualifying benefit or not, but it’s very important that families on benefits still complete an application form for free school meals. If you qualify, your child will continue to get free school meals in September 2024.

There are significant other benefits that families receive when they are registered for a free school meal, which includes:

  • access to a place during the holidays where your child participates in enriching activities and gets a meal offered through the government Holiday and Activity and Food programme
  • schools claim additional funding from the government, known as 'Pupil Premium' for every child whose parent or carer receives one of the qualifying benefits. Your school uses this additional money to ensure that children achieve academically and have access to educational and cultural activities. It is worth over £1,000 per pupil for the school your child attends

Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit

If you get Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit and are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child aged under four, you might be entitled to help to buy healthy food and milk with a Healthy Start Mastercard.

The card is preloaded with money on it that can be spent on cow’s milk, infant milk formula, fruit and vegetables. The card is loaded with money each month, and the amount you get will be based on how many children you have and how old they are. You can find out more by visiting the NHS Healthy Start website.

Mental health and wellbeing support for young people

We appreciate that there may be more than just financial strain caused by the rising cost of living, with mental health also being impacted. There is a broad range of services available to support children and young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. Visit We Got U, U Got This for more information.

Thrive’s ‘Getting Through This Together’ service also has been developed in response to the increased cost of living pressures. It aims to encourage Londoners to strengthen their social networks with family members and friends, and trusted others in their community. It also highlights the professional support and advice services which are available. Visit the Thrive LDN website

Holiday activities and Food Programme

For free and low-cost Sports, Arts and Culture, Skills and Training activities and advice for under-25s visit the OurCity website.

Last updated: 6 October 2023