Tuesday 22nd October 2019
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Free school meals (FSM)

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Do we qualify for FSM?

Parents / guardians must be in receipt of one of the following benefits to qualify for Free School Meals (FSM):

  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance – income-based
  • Employment and Support Allowance - income-related
  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Pension Credit – guarantee element
  • Universal Credit, and have a joint earned annual net income below £7,400
  • Child Tax Credit, and have a joint earned annual gross income below £16,190

Claimants in receipt of Working Tax Credit are not eligible for FSM unless these payments are due to end after a four week run on period, usually after becoming unemployed or reducing the number of hours worked.

Please note: only the benefits listed above qualify for FSM.

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

Children aged three and above must attend the nursery before and after lunch to qualify for FSM.

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


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Universal Credit and transitional protection

From 1 April 2018 the eligibility criteria has changed for customers who receive Universal Credit (a net annual earned income threshold of £7,400 will apply). Transitional protection has been agreed to protect pupils that would have lost their FSM entitlement as a result of the change in the qualifying criteria.

  • Any pupil eligible for FSM at the point an earned income threshold is introduced (ie eligible before 1 April 2018) will retain their eligibility until the end of the rollout of Universal Credit (March 2023), regardless of whether their circumstances change.
  • Any pupil who becomes eligible under the amended criteria during the rollout of Universal Credit (from 1 April 2018 to March 2023) will retain their eligibility until the end of the Universal Credit rollout, regardless of whether their circumstances change.
  • Once the rollout of Universal Credit has been completed, any losing pupil will continue to be transitionally protected until the end of their current phase of education eg primary / secondary.

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How do I apply for FSM 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 FSM please click the orange button below to apply. We use an online eligibility checking system.

Apply for FSM

We try to assess your claim within five to ten 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

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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 ESA who are also in receipt of DLA

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 will be able to advise you if you are eligible for help.

If you received FSM 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. 

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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 or children are not entitled to FSM, 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).


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What happens if my circumstances change?

Please contact us immediately if you're:

  • no longer in receipt of the qualifying benefits listed above
  • in receipt of Child Tax Credit and your income exceeds £16,190
  • in receipt of Universal Credit and your income exceeds £7,400
  • in receipt of Working Tax Credit

Also please notify us if:

  • there is a change of address
  • your child changes school or leaves during the school year

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Do I need to reapply every year?

You do not need to make an application every year even if your child changes, for example, from primary to secondary school at the end of the school year.

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Universal infant FSM

All infants in reception, year one or year two are entitled to FSM, 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.
The 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.

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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 FSM under the standard ‘benefit criteria’ within the last six years.

It's essential that parents / carers apply, even if the pupil does not wish to receive a FSM.​​​​​​​​​​

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    Free school meals
    Tel: 01582 510346

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