Free School Meals and Admissions
Free school meals
All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at state schools in England automatically get free school meals. However, parents and guardians are encouraged to apply for free school meals when they enrol their child in school, as this can help their child’s school to attract additional ‘pupil premium‘ funding to support learning.
From year 3 onwards, children whose parents are getting any of the following are entitled to free school meals:
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 (IS).
Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA).
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (IRESA).
The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, that does not exceed £16,190).
Working Tax Credit run-on (the payment you get for a further 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).
Children who receive a qualifying benefit in their own right can also get free school meals.
How to apply
Apply through the Citizen Portal. This is the quickest and easiest way to apply and will result in you getting an instant decision. Alternatively, call the Education Helpline on 0345 155 1019.
Please note that from 1 April 2018, all children currently getting free school meals will continue to do so while Universal Credit is rolled out. This will apply even if their parents’ earnings rise above the new threshold during that time. In addition, any child who becomes eligible for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing these 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 their earnings are 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 (such as primary or secondary).
The Universal Credit rollout is currently expected to complete in March 2023.