To qualify for free school meals you must fulfil one of the following criteria:
- 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 (£616.67 per month);
- Income Support;
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
- Support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;
- The guarantee element of Pension Credit;
- Child Tax Credit, provided you are also not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual household gross income that does not exceed £16,190 (as assessed by HMRC); or
- Working Tax Credit run-on, paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
Please note that contributions-based benefits, including contribution-related Jobseekers' Allowance do not entitle you to claim free school meals.
From 1 April 2018 the Government introduced new regulations for people claiming free schools meals who receive Universal Credit. The change means that if your net annual earnings are more than £7,400 you will not be eligible to claim free school meals.
Pupils who received free school meals before 1 April 2018 and pupils who are assessed as eligible after 1 April 2018 will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the universal roll out period, which is expected to be March 2022. This applies even if they no longer meet the eligibility criteria at a subsequent point during the roll out period.
At the end of the Universal Credit roll out period, any existing pupil who no longer meets the eligibility criteria will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary school.
If you think you might be eligible, please contact the school office in confidence for an paper copy of the application form or download one from the link below.
Applications are usually processed within five working days by the Local Authority. You will be notified in writing, either by post or email, if your child is entitled and they will also let the school know. You should continue to pay until confirmation comes through. Free school meals claims cannot be backdated. They are awarded from the date the Local Authority receive the application, once eligibility is confirmed. This is because there is a legal requirement for a request to be made, before a free school meal can be provided.
If you are not entitled to free school meals, you will be notified in writing.
Universal free school meals for infants
If your child is in reception, year one or year two they are automatically entitled to a free school meal, funded by the government. Parents who are on benefits and meet the above criteria are still encouraged to apply for free school meal funding, known as pupil premium funding. This benefits the school and helps increase your child's attainment. During the current roll out of Universal Credit if your child is approved for free school meals they will gain 'transitional protection' until at least March 2022.