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Free school meals

Your child will be eligible for free school meals if you (or your partner) are in receipt of one of the following awards:

  • 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 Guarantee element of State Pension Credit;
  • Child Tax Credit, providing you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs) not exceeding £16,190;
  • Universal Credit; or
  • Working Tax Credit 'run on', the four-week payment you may receive after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

Children who receive Income Support or Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance in their own right are also entitled to free school meals.

Note:  Children who have yet to attain compulsory school age will need to satisfy the additional requirement of "receiving education both before and after the lunch period", in order to be eligible to receive free school meals.   Children at infant or special schools may also be eligible to receive free milk.

Important note for parents of children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2

All children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will be offered a universal free school meal from September 2014. Parents and carers who receive the qualifying benefits listed above should still make an application for free school meals.  This is because your school can get additional government funding dependent on the number of children that qualify for statutory free school meals (based on your entitlement to certain benefits and awards).

Please claim even if your child does not wish to take a free meal.

You can apply online as part of your initial claim for housing benefit / council tax reduction or you can complete the separate free school meals application form.   We will check you eligibility to claim free school meals electronically so you will not normally need to provide supporting evidence.

If you are successful we will write to you informing you of the decision.  We will also notify your child's school.

If you qualify for statutory free school meals you may also be entitled to school clothing allowance.

Some two-year-olds in St Helens will be entitled to a free nursery place of up to 15 hours per week. This will depend upon your family circumstances. To find out more please visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/free2