Free School Meals

Free School Meals

Free school meals are available to all key stage one pupils through Universal free school meals and also to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of certain benefits.


To qualify, a parent/guardian must fulfil one of the following criteria (with effect from 01 April 2018):


  • Universal Credit, provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods. (£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 you are also not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual household gross income that does not exceed £16,190 (as assessed by HMRC)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax  Credit
    Applications are processed by the Welfare Team, normally within 5 working days. Parents are notified of the outcome in writing, either by post or email.

Schools can view the outcome of free school meal assessments through SAM (The Schools Access Module). ( )

Applications received by the team are awarded from the date that an application is received, once eligibility is confirmed. Free school meals claims cannot be backdated because there is a legal requirement for a request to be made, before a free school meal can be provided.

Universal free school meals for Infants

All children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are automatically entitled to a free school meal. However parents who receive benefits, and meet the criteria described above should still be encouraged to apply for this provision, as eligibility will enable the school to claim the Pupil Premium funding.

Transitional Protection

On the 1st April 2018 the Government amended the qualifying criteria for free school meals. As a consequence of this change, students who were in receipt of free school meals before the 1 April 2018 and all pupils who are assessed as eligible after the 1st April 2018 will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Government’s roll out of Universal Credit which is expected to be March 2022.

This protection applies even if a parent no longer meets the eligibility criteria at a subsequent point during the rollout period.

At the end of the Universal Credit roll out period, any existing pupil who may no longer meet the eligibility criteria will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.

Contact Details:


Welfare Team - CYPS

Jesmond House
31-33 Victoria Avenue

Tel: 01609 533405



Useful Downloads

FMB1 – Application for free school meals & Residential Visits

FMB2 - Application for free school meals/pupil premium funding – KS1 students

Free school meals - Guidance for local authorities, maintained schools, academies and free schools March 2018