Free School Meals
Since September 2014, state funded schools in England have been required by law to provide free lunches to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2, who are not otherwise entitled to benefits-related free school meals. Like other school meals, universal infant free school meals must meet school food standards in maintained schools; similarly academies and free schools are required to comply with the standards by virtue of their funding agreements, with the exception of a proportion that we expect to comply voluntarily.
Free school meal eligibility under Universal Credit
Children are entitled to receive free school meals if they or their parents or guardians receive any of the benefits below.
- Universal Credit, provided they have an annual net earned income not exceeding
- £7,400 (£616.67 per month)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guarantee element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, as assessed by HMRC
- Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
I don’t currently claim free school meals – what does this mean for me?
If you think you might be eligible for free school meals, submit a claim to your school or local authority. Your school should have a form you can use. The information you provide will be used to check if you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit and, if you are on Universal Credit, that your earnings do not exceed the threshold. If you claim Universal Credit, your earnings will be assessed from up to three of your last Universal Credit assessment periods.
If you are eligible, your school will be notified. Your child will receive free school meals and the school will receive extra funding.
I am currently claiming free school meals – what does this mean for me?
Most people won’t be affected by the new criteria. If you’re currently claiming free school meals, but don’t meet the new criteria, your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Universal Credit rollout period. This will apply even if your earnings rise above the new threshold or if you stop being entitled to Universal Credit.
The roll-out period is currently scheduled to end in March 2022.
Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, your child will keep their free school meal until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.