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Eligibility for benefits-related free school meals (FSM)

Families who receive the following are eligible for free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Providing free school meals to families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

FSM eligibility has been permanently extended to children in households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

Young people who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

If you receive a qualifying benefit, free school meals are available for:

  • Pupils at any school maintained by the authority (including a sixth form at a maintained school)
  • Students aged between 16 and 18 on 31 August in the following academic year. Students who turn 19 during their study programme will remain eligible for a free meal until the end of the academic year in which they turn 19, or to the end of their study programme, whichever is sooner. Students at colleges must apply directly to the college
  • Pupils attending maintained nurseries if they are attending both before and after lunch. Free school meals are not available to children attending private nurseries

Apply online

Please note that the online checking system only confirms or denies your eligibility to claim free school meals and does not give us access to any other information.

If you are currently in receipt of either Universal Credit, or the four-week run on of Working Tax Credit, you will need to send proof to us you have completed and saved your application.

If your application is successful, you will receive an email to confirm your child’s eligibility for free school meals. This will be in place until at least summer 2023, when the roll out of Universal Credit is due to be completed, irrespective of any changes to your financial circumstances. Their school will also be notified.

If your application is unsuccessful, the online system will continuously check your eligibility status and inform you and the school of any changes.

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