The eligibility criteria for free school meals will be changing on 1 April 2018, with interim arrangements in place whilst the new Universal Credit system is implemented. This letter explains the changes and how they might affect you.
What is the eligibility criteria?
Children are entitled to receive free school meals if they or their parents or carers receive any of the benefits below.
- 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)
I don’t currently claim free school meals – what does this mean for me?
If you think you might be eligible for free school meals please submit a claim online via our Academy Website. If you require assistance
with this process then please contact the academy. The information you provide will be used to check if you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit and, if you are on Universal Credit, that your earnings do not exceed the threshold. If you claim Universal Credit, your earnings will be assessed from up to three of your last Universal Credit assessment periods.
If you are eligible, your academy will be notified. Your child will then receive free school meals and the academy will receive extra funding.
I am currently claiming free school meals – what does this mean for me?
Most people won’t be affected by the new criteria. If you’re currently claiming free school meals, but don’t meet the new criteria, your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of the Universal Credit rollout period. This will apply even if your earnings rise above the new threshold or if you stop being entitled to Universal Credit. The rollout period is currently scheduled to end in March 2022.
Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, your child will keep their free school meal until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.
Where can I get more information?
If you need any further information, please speak to a member of academy staff or the local authority. You can also visit the GOV. UK free school meal website.
Mrs L Smith | Assistant Deputy Headteacher – Assessment and Data