Friday 17th November 2017
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Free school meals

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You may be able to get free school meals for your child if you are currently getting certain benefits.

Apply for free school meals

Can my child get free school meals?

Free school meals can only be awarded if you or your partner are claiming either;

  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance – income based
  • Universal Credit​
  • Employment and Support Allowance - income related
  • support under part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit, provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income that does not exceed £16,190
  • guaranteed element of state pension credit

Please note: only the benefits listed above qualify for free school meals.

If you have recently become unemployed but are still receiving Working Tax Credits, you may be entitled to free school meals. Please call us on 01582 510346 for advice on the working tax credit run on.

Children must be in education before and after lunch to qualify for free school meals.

If your child attends a school or Luton sixth form college after the age of 16 they will still be able to have school meals (provided you are still eligible).

How do I apply for free school meals and what is the process?

If your child is in education and you meet the qualifying criteria as detailed above but are not already receiving free school meals you can complete an online form. We use an online eligibility checking system. We try to assess your claim within 5-10 working days. On your claim form please provide all current contact numbers as we may need to contact your for further information regarding your claim.

Please make sure you have the following details before making a claim:

  • National Insurance number
  • details of the school your child attends
  • claimant's and child’s personal information
  • list of benefits you are getting

What if my child goes to college?

If your child leaves school and goes to a college or an independent training provider there are other funds which you may be able to access. The government has a scheme called the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund to support young people to stay in education. There are certain groups that will be entitled to the full £1,200 bursary per year. These are:

  • young people in care
  • care leavers
  • young people in receipt of Income Support
  • disabled young people in receipt of Employment Support Allowance who are also in receipt of Disability Living Allowance

Colleges use their discretion to make awards to other young people in ways that best fit the needs and circumstances of their students. Bursary awards will be targeted towards young people facing financial barriers to stay on in education. You need to discuss this with the college you are going to attend as they hold the bursary and they will be able to advise you if you are eligible for help.

If you received free school meals at school it is likely you will be able to get money from this fund. You can use this money for meals, but you may receive sufficient funds to cover cost to cover costs of transport, books and equipment.

What if I disagree with the outcome of my claim?

If you receive an outcome you are not happy with, for example advising you that your child/children are not entitled to free school meals, and you believe the decision needs reviewing, then please contact us within one month from the date of our notification letter.

Please tell us why you think you should be entitled and provide up to date proof of income such as child tax credit or other benefit award letters (documents and letters older than three months are not acceptable).

What happens if my circumstances change?

Please contact us immediately if:

  • you are no longer in receipt of the qualifying benefits listed above
  • if your income reaches over £16190.00
  • if you are in receipt of Working Tax Credit
Also please notify us if:
  • there is a change of address
  • if your child changes school or leaves during the school year

Do I need to reapply every year?

You do not need to make an application every year, and if your child changes school after the school year (in September) then you don’t need to reapply as the new school will be told automatically. This also applies if your child changes, for example, from primary to secondary school at the end of the school year.

Universal infant free school meals

From September 2014, all infants in reception, year 1 or year 2 are entitled to free school meals, regardless of the parent/carer's circumstances. You may have heard this scheme referred to as universal infant free school meals (UIFSM).

However, if you think you might be eligible under the standard benefit criteria we strongly suggest that you make an online application anyway.

The government gives schools additional funding (called 'pupil premium') for every pupil who successfully registers, so your application will benefit your child and their classmates.

School may ask you to complete a 'pupil premium' form this is used to assess if your child should be receiving free school meals under the benefit criteria or the UIFSM scheme.

What is pupil premium?

The government will continue to provide schools with additional funding to support or enhance the learning of pupils who are currently or have been entitled to free school meals under the standard ‘benefit criteria’ within the last six years. It is essential that parents/carers apply, even if the pupil does not wish to receive a free school meal.​​​​​

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