Can I get free school meals for my children?

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Education is free in the UK but sending your child to school can be expensive. From making sure they have the right uniform to paying for school trips and packed lunches, the money can quickly stack up.

However, the UK Government operates a free school meals scheme in England which means your child will be given lunch, and you won’t have to spend a penny.

All children automatically get free school meals when they are in: 

  • reception 
  • year 1 
  • year 2

If your child is older, however, you may be still eligible for free school meals if you are in receipt any of the following benefits:

  • 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 guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who get paid these benefits directly can also get free school meals.

If you qualify for free school meals, you might also be alligibly for school clothing grants or school journey grants. The Pupil Benefits Team will work out what support you can get.

To check if you and your family can sign up to free school meals, enter the postcode of where you’re staying on the Government website here.

This will tell who who your local council is. There will also be a link to the council website, which you should click on for more information about how to apply.

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