Are you eligible for free school meals?
There are two types of free school meals:
- Government free school meals
- Universal free school meals
Who qualifies for government free school meals?
Free school meals can only be awarded if you or your partner are claiming any of the following:
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)
- 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 guarantee 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
In addition, the following pupils will be protected against losing their free school meals as follows:
- From 1 April 2018, all existing free school meals claimants will continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This will apply even if their earnings rise above the new threshold during that time.
- In addition, any child gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period.
- Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, any existing claimants that no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because they are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).
The Universal Credit rollout is currently expected to complete in March 2022.
Who qualifies for universal free school meals?
Universal free school meals are provided for all pupils in reception and years 1 and 2. In order for your child's school to recognise who's eligible for universal meals and who qualifies for free school meals for funding purposes, we would encourage all parents to register with their school by completing an application form, even if the child doesn't wish to receive a meal.
How do I apply for one or both of the free school meal schemes?
If your child is in reception, year 1 or year 2, an application form for universal free school meals can be obtained from your child's school, or you can complete the online universal application form.
Similarly, if your child is in year 3 or above, you can obtain a government free school meals application from your child’s school or complete the online government scheme application form.
What is pupil premium?
The government will continue to provide schools with additional funding to support or enhance the learning of pupils who are currently or have been entitled to free school meals within the last six years. It's essential that parents/carers apply for free school meals even if the pupil doesn't wish to receive a free school meal.