As the cost of living crisis hits all of us and the cost of food continues to rise making sure your child gets a healthy and nutritious meal at lunchtime couldn’t be more important. Many parents are reluctant to claim for free school meals due to stigma they may have faced or seen during their own school days but times are different and no child is made to feel uncomfortable for receiving them. They can even provide a free packed lunch for school trips.
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 your child already gets free school meals and you’re moved to Universal Credit from legacy benefits
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 your child is in reception or years one and two
Children in reception and years one and two are not affected by the changes.
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.
Claiming free school meals helps your school too.
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.