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Free school meals

Who qualifies for free school meals

Free school meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods, and your monthly average income over three assessment periods should be no more than £616.67)
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

Your child might also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:

Infant free school meals

Your child will be able to get free school meals if they’re in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2

This includes academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision as well as maintained schools. You do not need to apply for free school meals if your child meets the above criteria, however if you are on a low income you should still apply so that your child’s school can claim the Pupil Premium. This is extra money paid direct to schools for each child who is eligible for free school meals due to the household being on a low income. It is used to support your child’s education.

How to apply for free school meals

You can apply online via the Citizen Portal using the link below (guidance is available). We will then check your eligibility and let you know whether you qualify. Please note, if you have already completed a primary or secondary school place application for the 2017/18 academic year via the portal, you do not need to re-register when applying for free school meals. Please use the login details that you have already set up. 

Apply for free school meals

What happens after you have completed an application

  • we will check your eligibility for free school meals
  • if you qualify for a free school meal under the benefit criteria, a letter will be sent to you confirming your free school meal entitlement.
  • your child or children’s school will also be informed.
  • contact your child’s school to find out how your child’s lunch will be served
  • free school meals cannot be granted to any child until either the school or ourselves have received a correctly completed application
  • entitlement to free school meals cannot be backdated
  • schools will know if your child qualifies for a universal Infants free school meal.

Due to the roll out of Universal Credit, there are transitional protections in place for those who are entitled to free school meals.

This means that if you are currently entitled to free school meals you should not reapply until your child changes school after 31 March 2022, regardless of your benefit status.

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