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 

  • Universal Credit, (provided they 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)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • A  run-on of Working Tax Credit – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

Changes to the way free school meal eligibility checks are carried out from April 2019

Due to the changes in the National Funding Formula and the way schools are funded, from April 2019 schools will be responsible for assessing a pupil’s entitlement to free school meals and to ensuring that an applicant meets the qualifying benefit.

NYCC operates a Free School Meal Assessment Service as a traded service and more information on this can be found at

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

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

Free school meals eligibility checks - changes to arrangements from April 2019