Free School Meals
The Social Security Act 1986, means that the Council can provide Free School Meals (FSM) to children whose parents or who themselves are in receipt of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income based job seekers allowance
- Child Tax Credit with an annual income less than £16,190 (you are not entitled if you also receive Working Tax Credit)
- Income-related Employment Support allowance
- The guarantee element of state pension credit
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Universal Credit (where the monthly net earned income is not more than £616.67)
With effect from 1st April 2019, the Welsh Government has introduced an annualised earned income threshold of £7,400 for Universal Credit claimants who wish to claim free school meals for their children. At the same time, the Welsh Government has introduced a programme of transitional protection to protect families from losing eligibility for free school meals until the end of the rollout of Universal Credit (currently scheduled for 31st December 2023) and thereafter to the end of the school phase (primary, secondary).
- Any pupil eligible for free school meals at the point of 1st April 2019 will have their eligibility protected. This will apply to all applicants until the end of the rollout of Universal Credit, regardless of whether their circumstances change.
- Any pupil who becomes eligible under the amended criteria during the rollout of Universal Credit (from 1st April 2019 to 31st December 2023) will also retain their eligibility until the end of Universal Credit rollout, regardless of whether their circumstances change.
- Once the rollout of Universal Credit has completed, any transitionally protected child will continue to be transitionally protected until the end of their current phase of education, e.g. primary / secondary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are children still protected if their parents stop receiving Benefits entirely?
Yes, pupils remain protected until 31st December 2023 and then to the end of their current phase of education, regardless of whether their circumstances change.
What happens if the child moves to live with another family member who does not meet the eligibility criteria or leaves the area?
The protection is awarded to the individual child. If they move to live with another family member, they will keep their protection, even if the family member they move to live with does not meet the eligibility criteria. If the child moves to another Authority then they will still keep their protection.
If I am receiving free school meals for my eldest child prior to 1st April 2019, will the transitional protection cover their sibling who doesn’t start school until September 2019?
If you receive free school meals prior to 1st April 2019 for a child who is currently in education, you will not automatically be entitled for any sibling who starts school after this date. The transitional protection only covers the child you receive free school meals for at the time. Your income will have to be assessed when a sibling starts school to see if you meet the new criteria for them.
School Clothing Grant
As of September 2022, pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals may also be entitled to a clothing grant if they are entering Reception or any other Year Group (excluding Year 12 and Year 13). Visit the School Essentials Grant page for further guidance.
Universal Free School Meals
As part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Government is working closely with local authorities to meet the commitment for every primary school pupil to receive a free school meal by 2024. From September 2022 children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will receive free school meals. The remaining years will be rolled out by 2024.
If your child is entering Reception, or Year 1 or Year 2 and you want your child to receive a free meal in school at lunchtimes from September 2022 you should apply using the Apply for Free School Meals / School Essentials Grant form. If you are already receiving Free School Meals for your child then you do not need to reapply. Please note that being in receipt of Universal Free School Meals does not make you eligible for a Personal Development Grant.
Last Modified: 09/03/2023
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