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Free School Meal Applications

Eligibility criteria

A child may be eligible for free school meals (FSM) if their parents are in receipt of any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, provided the parents are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax credit
  • Universal Credit – for those applying on or after 1 April 2018, their household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits they get)

Children may also get FSM if they receive any of these benefits directly, instead of through a parent.

This is explained on the GOV.UK website. 

  • Contribution-based benefits
  • Contribution-based JSA or ESA are not eligibility criteria for FSM in their own right. 

However, claiming contribution-based benefits doesn't prevent someone being eligible for FSM on the basis of receiving one of the other benefits listed above.

If someone is in receipt of even 1p of income-based JSA or include-related ESA, they're eligible for FSM. That mean, for example, someone receiving equal amounts of income-based and contribution-based JSA or ESA is still eligible for FSM.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed this for us.

Infant pupils

All pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 are entitled to universal infant free school meals.