Free School Meals Information
A child may be eligible for free school meals (FSM) if their parents are in receipt of any of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided the parents are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
- Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax credit
- Universal Credit – for those applying on or after 1 April 2018, their household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits they get)
Children may also get FSM if they receive any of these benefits directly, instead of through a parent.
This is explained on the GOV.UK website.
A child may also be eligible for FSM if:
- Their parent gets any of the benefits referred to in section 1 above
- They are under compulsory school age, and
- They are in full-time education
This is explained in the GOV.UK guidance linked to in section 1 above.
Nursery-aged children can receive FSM if they attend a maintained nursery school or nursery class and they attend before and after lunch sessions. This is explained in a DfE report on the uptake of FSM (see page 8).
All pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 are entitled to universal infant free school meals.
Transitional protections during Universal Credit rollout
Following the update to the eligibility criteria on 1 April 2018, the government has implemented transitional protections for those pupils who might otherwise have lost FSM due to the changes. These are awarded as follows:
- Any pupil who was in receipt of FSM immediately prior to 1 April 2018 continues to receive FSM while Universal Credit is rolled out. This applies even if they no longer meet the eligibility criteria during the rollout period
- Any pupil who gains eligibility for FSM after 1 April 2018 continues to receive FSM during the Universal Credit rollout period. This applies even if they no longer meet the eligibility criteria at a subsequent point during the rollout period
"Immediately prior" means that the school needs to have evidence that the pupil was eligible for FSM on 31 March 2018. The DfE clarified this for us.
Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, existing pupils who no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point will continue to receive FSM until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.
The DfE currently expects the Universal Credit rollout to be completed in March 2022.
No further eligibility checks will be needed during the rollout of Universal Credit, due to these protection arrangements. You should continue to record pupils claiming FSM (including those being transitionally protected) as eligible for FSM on your termly census.
New applicants for FSM on or after 1 April 2018, who are in receipt of Universal Credit and have earnings above the earned income threshold, will not be eligible for FSM.
This is explained in guidance on FSM from the DfE (pages 10 to 11).
FSM supplementary grant
The number of pupils eligible for FSM is projected to increase following the DfE’s introduction of the income-based threshold for FSM eligibility.
Find out about the supplementary grant which the DfE has introduced to help schools manage this increase in FSM numbers in the short term.