You could save up to £400 a year if your child gets free school meals and it will mean they get a healthy school lunch every day. All children in reception, year one and year two are also entitled to free school meals.
Who can get free school meals
Your child can get free school meals if your combined annual household income is below £16,190 (as assessed by HMRC) and you get one of the following benefits:
- income-based: income support or jobseeker’s allowance (not eligible if on contribution based jobseeker’s allowance)
- income-related: employment support allowance (not eligible if on contribution based employment support allowance)
- universal credit
- income support
- the guaranteed element of state pension credit
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- child tax credit only.
If you're not on benefits
If your income is below £16,190 and you are not on any benefits your family will not be eligible.
If one parent earns above £16,190
If one partner or spouse in the household gets benefits and the other gets an annual income above £16,190, as assessed by HMRC, your family will not be eligible for free school meals.
If you get working tax credits
If you get working tax credit regardless of your annual household income your family will not be eligible for free school meals.
Changes to free school meals eligibility from 1 April 2018
Universal credit is being introduced over the next few years and will replace existing benefits, such as housing benefit and JSA. We expect the rollout to be completed by March 2022. This may affect your school meals eligibility.
Applying for free school meals from 1 April 2018
If you are on universal credit, you can only apply for free school meals for children in year three and above if you earn £7,400 per year or less.
If your child already gets free school meals
If you are moved onto universal credit and your child already gets free school meals, they can still get free school meals, even if you earn more than £7,400, until the end of the rollout period in March 2022.
If you aren’t on universal credit yet
If you haven’t been moved onto universal credit yet, you can still apply for free school meals and your application will be based on the old eligibility criteria above.
What other support your child will get
Free school meals are part of something called ‘pupil premium’. As well as providing free school meals, pupil premium provides extra funding of up to £1,350 to your child's school. The school can then use this funding to support your child’s education through extra tuition, teaching staff or after-school activities.