Welcome to sthelens.gov.uk

Best place to find information and services that your council provides...

Free School Meals & Pupil Premium

Free School Meals

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

  • 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 (but not Working Tax Credit) and your annual gross income (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs) is not more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit 'run on' – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit and net earnings, from your last assessment period, is not more than £616.67 per month. (If your household's net earnings change each month then they should not exceed £1,233.34 in the last two consecutive months or £1,850 in the past three months).

Once eligible, your child will continue to receive free school meals in primary or secondary school until they finished their current phase of education i.e. primary (Year 6) or secondary (Year 11).   

From 1 April 2022, if your child moves between primary and secondary school you need to reapply for free school meals.

Pupil Premium

Your child’s school will also receive additional funding if you are in receipt of a qualifying award listed above.  It is therefore important that you claim free school meals and the pupil premium even if your child does not wish to take a school meal or your child is in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2 and already receives an infant free school meal.

If your child is at an academy

If your child is attending one of the following schools, you will need to contact the school directly to apply for free school meals:

  • St Mary & St Thomas’ C.E. Primary School, WA10 2HS
  • Rainhill St Ann’s Church of England Primary School, L35 0LQ

Provide information in support of your claim

Changes in circumstances

Please contact us if you have a change in your circumstances, for example your child changes school or you or you move address so that we can keep our records up to date.


Contact Details

01744 676666

Write to: St Helens Council, Revenues and Benefits, PO Box 10592, NOTTINGHAM, NG6 6DP
Call in person:  
Email: educationbenefits@sthelens.gov.uk
  • You should live within borough of St Helens. If you live outside the area please contact your local education authority.
  • We will check your eligibility to claim free school meals electronically. You will not normally need to provide supporting evidence.
  • If you qualify we will also notify your child's school.
  • Children at infant or special schools may also be eligible to receive free milk.
  • Children below compulsory school age must attend before and after lunch sessions at a local authority nursery school or nursery class to qualify for free school meals.
  • Young people who receive the above listed awards in their own right are also eligible to apply for free school meals.
  • Foster parents already receive funding and are not eligible to apply for free school meals.

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

St Helens Council will collect personal data about you and your family if you apply or your child receives free school meals.

What Information do we hold?

  • Name, address, address history, date of birth and gender
  • Contact details, including telephone numbers and email addresses
  • Your national insurance number and qualifying benefit or award
  • Details about your family and children

Who is processing my data?

All personal data we hold is treated as confidential and will be held securely in accordance with data protection legislation. It will only be used for the assessment of entitlement to free school meals and pupil premium unless otherwise stated.

The Council has contracts with suppliers who may process your data on our behalf and are designated data processors. Contracts include: software suppliers; hybrid mail providers; and a scanning bureau.

Legal basis for processing your data

The legal basis for processing your data is:

  • the Education Act 1996
  • the Welfare Reform Act 2012
  • the Children and Families Act 2014

The Council has a duty to protect the public funds it administers and may use the information provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies administering public funds solely for these purposes.

How do we use the information we hold about you?

We collect information about you:

  • to process an application for free school meals;
  • to check eligibility on the Department for Education's Eligibility Checking System (ECS);
  • to allow the Council to communicate with you and to provide services appropriate to your needs including the take-up of relevant services; and
  • to protect public funds including: the prevention and detection of fraud.

Who we will share your information with and why

We will only disclosure information to other bodies where it is allowed by law. This includes:

  • internal use - other services within St Helens Council for the purpose of holding accurate records in respect of residency, to promote the take-up of other services or where it is allowed for by law;
  • your representatives - including but not limited to appointees, Members of Parliament, Councillors, where you have provided consent;
  • schools – to provide free meals and claim additional grant funding;
  • the Department for Education – for statistical and analytical purposes;
  • other contractors – where we have a legal agreement for them to process your data on our behalf; or 
  • police, law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities - for the prevention or investigation of crime.

 Transfers out of EU

  • No data will be transferred or held outside the EU.

We will receive information from the following sources

  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Department for Education
  • Schools
  • Other organisations, including government departments, where we have a legal right to request information or to verify information you have provided including social or support workers

How long do we retain your information for?

  • Application forms and other information that you provide in respect of free school meals will be retained for six years.

Automated decision making

  • Automated decision making is where an electronic system uses personal information to make a decision without human intervention. This may occur in certain processes which meet defined criteria. Applications that fail to meet defined criteria will be reviewed manually.      
  • If you are not satisfied with a decision you have the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed. 
  • Your data is not subject to automated profiling.

Your rights

For further information on your rights please visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/dataprotection.

These rights may be restricted subject to St Helens Council undertaking its statutory obligations in accordance with the law.