Free School Meal Eligibility

27 November 2019

Dear Parent/Carer

Changes to free school meal eligibility under Universal Credit

The Eligibility criteria for free school meals have been changed.  This letter explains the changes and how they might affect you.

How does it work?

  1. First, check if you qualify – it is not just if you are unemployed, so please look at the

list overleaf.
2. Registering is really quick and easy – if you think you qualify, contact the Citizens Portal on 0300 5008080 who will help you to register.

3. If you would like your child to receive a school meal at lunchtime this will be provided

free, (saving you £437 a year) but even if they decide they would rather bring

a packed lunch from home please still register to enable the academy to receive the extra


4. No one will know that you have claimed and it will not affect any other benefits that you

are claiming.

If you apply and are successful you will receive a free cardigan or sweatshirt from school.

Thank you for your continued support.

Yours faithfully

Mrs R Harrison


What are the new eligibility criteria?

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 the local authority (0300 5008080).  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 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 rollout 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.

If you need any further information, please speak to a member of school staff or the local authority.  You can also visit the free school meals website:

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