Free School Meals Information
Who is eligible for free school meals?
If you are receiving one of the following benefits or support, your child will have the right to a free school meal:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and your annual income is below £16,190 (as worked out by HM Revenue & Customs)
- Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Parents receiving Working Tax Credit for four weeks after their employment finishes are entitled to free school meals during that period. This also applies to parents who start working less than 16 hours per week.
You are not entitled to Free School Meals if you receive Working Tax Credit except where the '4 week run-on' applies as described above.
Pupils are also entitled to claim free school meals in their own right if they are in receipt of any of the above benefits.
How to Apply
A request has to be made before the Council can provide free school meals. Normally, the parent or guardian of the child makes the request.
Please note: you will have to pay for any school meals your child has before DMBC receives your application.
You can apply for free school meals up to a maximum of two months before your child starts school.
What happens when DMBC receives your application?
Once you have applied for free school meals, DMBC aims to deal with your request within 2 working days. When you apply online, your entitlement to free school meals will be checked automatically as part of the online process. In most cases this is all that is needed but, if they are unable to confirm your entitlement using this service, they will contact you for more information.
Once your application is dealt with you will receive a letter confirming your entitlement to free school meals. We will also be advised that your child can start having free school meals.
You do not have to reapply for free school meals. As long as your circumstances stay the same, your child’s right to free school meals will be renewed in July each year. You will receive a letter at that time to confirm that your children will continue to receive free school meals.
What happens if my circumstances change?
If you have a change in your circumstances you must let DMBC know straight away as it may affect your entitlement to free school meals. The things you must tell them about are:
- If you stop receiving Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- HMRC reviews your claim for Child Tax Credit / Working Tax Credit
- You stop receiving support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- A child leaves your home
- A child comes to live with you
- Your child changes school
- You change address
Normally, the earliest date your free school meals can start is the date your request is received. But, if you have a qualifying benefit backdated, for example, if you win an appeal for Income Support, you will receive a refund for any school meals you have paid for from the date you qualified for the benefit. You can also ask us for a refund for any school meals you have paid for between the date of your request and the date your child starts receiving free school meals.
Extra benefits of claiming free school meals
Even if your child does not want free school meals, you should still make a request. This is because you may be entitled to other benefits for your child, for example, free school milk for children under seven, or help towards board and lodging charges for school trips.