Free School Meals Eligibility
From 1 April 2018, the criteria for Free School Meals has been updated to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit and the phasing out of other income based benefits.
Local Authorities, Academies and Free Schools have a duty to provide free school meals to pupils of all ages.
Free School Meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit (provided the family has an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to 3 of the most recent assessment periods)
- 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 guarantee element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (providing the family is not 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 a claimant stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit
In addition the following pupils will be protected against losing their free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out:
- From 1 April 2018, all existing free school meal pupils will continue to receive free school meals
- Any child gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected
Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out (expected to be complete in March 2022) any existing claimant that no longer meets the eligibility criteria will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).
Universal Infant Free School Meals
Since September 2014, schools have been required to provide free lunches to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and there are no changes to this arrangement.
The Free School Meals team will continue to assess Pupil Premium for these pupils.
Applying for Free School Meals
Parents are required to complete a Free School Meals Application Form available from the school or direct from Children's Services.
Parents are not required to provide evidence of the benefit they receive as checks will be made using data held by the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Home Office. Once agreed, children have a continuous entitlement to free school meals unless the family stops receiving a qualifying benefit. Parents are required to inform the school or Norfolk County Council of any changes but the team will also carry out regular checks and inform schools and parents of any cancelled claims.
The Free School Meals Team can be contacted on 01603 222518 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice and guidance.