Alternatively, you can apply by telephone on 01926 742060. The online checking system provided by the Department of Education only confirms or denies your eligibility to claim free school meals: it does not give us any other information.
When your eligibility has been confirmed and your application processed, you will be sent a confirmation letter and we will contact the school directly regarding your child's eligibility.
Please be aware that:
The current criteria for claiming free school meals are:
You become eligible to claim free school meals if you receive a Working Tax Credit run-on: this is the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
In order to qualify for free school meals after the four week period expires you will need to be in receipt of one of the other qualifying benefits listed above, and we will need to be able to verify that.
Unfortunately there is no 4 week 'run-on' of free school meals if you become entitled to Working Tax Credit because you have taken work: your entitlement to claim free school meals ends when your qualifying benefit ends.
When you successfully apply for free school meals the school will receive an extra £623 of government funding even if your child does not want the meal. This additional funding will be used to help children from lower income families do their very best at school. Please also be aware that if your family is registered for free school meals you may be eligible to claim other forms of assistance, for instance with home to school transport. If you would like more information about home to school transport contact Education Transport on 01926 742059.
We do routine eligibility checks on all current claims throughout the year. Please contact us immediately if your benefit changes or ends, as it may mean that you no longer qualify to claim free school meals. It is equally important that you tell us if your partner is now claiming the family's qualifying benefit for free school meals as we will need an application from them.
If you do not notify us that your family is no longer eligible for free school meals, you may be invoiced for the cost of any free meals taken that you were not entitled to.
Benefit Helpline contact numbers:
0845 300390008453 003900
Mon - Fri 8am to 8pm and Sat 8am to 4pm
For deaf or hard of hearing or speech impaired: 08453003909
0800 05566880800 0556688
Mon - Fri 8am - 8pm
For deaf or hard of hearing or speech impaired: 0800 0556688 08000556688
Please contact your child's school to find out whether this is available and how to request it.
Unfortunately there is no free school meals eligibility if either partner is entitled to Working Tax Credit, regardless of income.
Further information regarding all criteria for claiming free school meals and application instructions can be found on our webpage: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals
The upper annual income threshold of £16,190 applies to families who receive Child Tax Credit but have no entitlement to Working Tax Credit.
Where a parent/carer is entitled to Working Tax Credit during a 4-week ‘run-on’ period immediately after their employment ends or they no longer qualify for Working Tax Credit, then they are eligible to claim free school meals for that 4-week period.
Unfortunately as we are unable to confirm eligibility using the Eligibility Checking Service you will need to submit a hard copy application form with a copy of your Tax Credit Decision Notice. If you do not have a Tax Credit Decision Notice please send a copy of your P45 or a letter stating what date your employment ended.
Once the 4-week temporary entitlement period has expired we will require proof that one of the other qualifying benefits listed on the webpage has been awarded.
If you are in receipt of Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance you are eligible to claim free school meals. Contribution-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance is not a qualifying benefit.
Please be aware that if you receive both Income-Based and Contribution-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance then the Income-Based element must be the larger amount of the two in order to qualify for free school meals.
Neither Incapacity Benefit nor DLA are qualifying benefits for free school meals. Unfortunately unless you have been awarded one of the benefits listed on the webpage you will not be eligible to claim free school meals.
If you are in receipt of Employment & Support Allowance Income-Related you are eligible to claim free school meals. Contribution-Based Employment & Support Allowance is not a qualifying benefit.
Please be aware that if you receive both Income-Related and Contribution-Based Employment & Support Allowance then the Income-Related element must be the larger amount of the two in order to qualify for free school meals.
Local authorities do not set the qualifying criteria for free school meals and we are unable to waive them. Any change to the criteria is a matter for central, not local government, so your Member of Parliament is the appropriate person to contact about this issue.
As the child’s carer you are eligible to claim free school meals for her if you are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits. Either of her parents is also eligible to claim for free school meals for the child, even though she is currently residing with you, providing they claim a qualifying benefit.
Either a foster carer or the natural parent (whichever is in receipt of a qualifying benefit) may claim free school meals for the fostered child.
You need to apply to Warwickshire County Council for your child’s free school meals if he/she is attending a Warwickshire maintained school or nursery.
Although you receive a qualifying benefit you are only eligible to claim free school meals for your child if he/she is attending a local authority maintained nursery school and receiving education both before and after the lunch break.
Colleges of Further Education are not maintained by the local authority and statutory legislation relating to free school meals does not apply to them. However you may wish to ask the college about claiming assistance via the 16-19 Bursary Fund. For further details go to:
When you apply on-line or by telephone we are able to directly check your entitlement using the Eligibility Checking Service provided by the Department for Education and you will be advised whether or not your claim is successful at the time of application. You will only be asked to provide current documentary evidence of which benefit you receive if your eligibility cannot be confirmed in this way.
We are committed to processing your application and advising the appropriate school about your child’s entitlement as quickly as possible so that there is no delay in free school meals starting. However due to varying school administration requirements it is not always possible to guarantee a same-day service.
All applications received by us should be processed within 3 working days and we will confirm your entitlement in writing.
Department for Education policy states that a local authority has no legal responsibility to provide a free school meal to a child, who may be otherwise eligible, where no application has been made. Unfortunately we are unable to backdate entitlement to free school meals to cover unpaid school dinner money, or to refund dinner money paid prior to the date of a successful application.
We will contact the school your child attends by telephone or secure e-mail when your application has been processed. Weekly updates are also sent to the schools.
Most secondary schools now use a Smartcard or biometric system to administer school meals, and if your child is entitled to a free school meal the allowance should be input into their account by the school in time for the lunch break each day. However as secondary schools are able to set their own catering budgets, and therefore their own FSM Allowance, the amount will vary from school to school. We suggest that you contact the school your child attends for further details.
You can contact the Customer Service Centre (01926 742060) with the details and they will pass the information to the FSM Administrator. Please be aware that is your responsibility (not that of the school) to notify us about any of these changes.
It is particularly important that you tell us if you or a partner becomes entitled to Working Tax Credit. Unfortunately if you do not notify us about this, and a routine eligibility check during the year shows that you continued to claim school meals when no longer eligible to do so, then you may be asked to repay the cost of all meals taken free to which your children were not entitled.
The school your child attends will be able to advise you about their weekly lunch menu. You can also read more about Warwickshire’s commitment to healthy eating on the School Meals webpage at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/schoolmeals
There is no requirement under the Education Act 2005 for local authorities to fund a uniform clothing allowance and this is not available from Warwickshire County Council. You may however wish to contact the school to see if they have an in-house scheme to assist with uniform costs.
For more information about free school meals you can contact the Customer Service Centre:
Telephone: 01926 742060 (Mon – Fri: 8.00am – 8.00pm, Sat: 9.00am – 4.00)