Benefits and support

Summer holiday activities and food programme

Children and young people aged 5-16 years can access hundreds of free activities and a meal.

Find out more about the programme now

Free school meals

How to apply for free school meals in term-time.

Is my child eligible for free school meals?

Children in Reception, year 1 and year 2

All children in Reception, year 1 and year 2 get free school meals regardless of your income. Your school will write to you about this.

If you or your partner do receive one of the qualifying benefits listed below, please complete the online application form on this page so that your child’s school gets the extra funding known as the Pupil Premium.

Nursery-aged children

If your child is aged 3 or 4, attends a maintained nursery school all day and you receive a qualifying benefit, they could be eligible.

Children in junior and senior school – year 3 to year 11

Your child could be eligible for free school meals if you or your partner receive a qualifying benefit.

What are the qualifying benefits?

If you or your partner receive any of the following benefits you can apply.

  • Universal Credit - your household earned annual income must be less than £7,400 after tax and not including any benefits
  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income related Employment Support Allowance
  • Support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed part of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit – with no Working Tax Credit and your annual household income is no more than £16,190, as assessed by the Inland Revenue

Before you apply

  • If you’re a foster parent you cannot apply for free school meals as you already receive funding.
  • If you already receive free school meals for a child and just want to add another child, contact us and we'll be able to check if the additional child is eligible.
  • If you get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, contact us and we’ll be able to check if your child is eligible.

How to apply

Apply online for free school meals and get an instant decision.  Remember, if your child is in reception, year 1 or year 2 and you receive a qualifying benefit, make sure you apply so the school gets the extra funding.

Read our privacy notice which tells you how we use your data.

Apply online

What happens next?

We will inform your child’s school if you are eligible for free school meals.

How long will my child get free school meals?

There is no change to eligibility criteria if you receive a legacy benefit.

If you receive or are moving to Universal Credit, your child will get free school meals until March 2023, regardless of any changes to you or your partner's income. 

After March 2023, existing children who no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.

For example:

  • If your child is in year 4 in 2023, they will receive free school meals until they finish primary school. They will not be eligible in secondary school if you and your partner’s income is more than £7,400 per year.
  • If your child is in year 9 in 2023, they will receive free school meals until they finish secondary school even if your income is more than £7,400 per year.

What is a pupil premium?

If your child is eligible for free school meals, the school will get extra funding for your child’s education when you apply – £1,320 per child in primary school and £935 per child in secondary school.

This funding is called Pupil Premium. The money can be used to help with the cost of school trips, extra teaching staff and activities.