Application for free school meals - schools not signed up
Application for free school meals
All mainstream schools in Buckinghamshire have an obligation to provide Free School Meals to eligible children that attend full time. Parents apply directly to the school if they consider their child(ren) eligible to receive Free School Meals. Eligibility is judged against the benefits that the applying parent/carer is entitled to.
If you have not signed up for the new The Eligibility Checking Service but would like further details then please contact the team by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Free School Meal Application
An application form must be returned to the school by parents at the beginning of each academic year (or when they start school) together with documentary evidence to confirm the parents' entitlement. It is then the school's responsibility to arrange for the provision of a free school meal. Schools should keep application forms and evidence for audit purposes for six years after the pupil's entitlement ends.
Further information on eligibility and examples of situations you may encounter is available through the link below:
Below is a link to an example letter provided by the DfE which is designed to make parents aware of the benefits of the Pupil Premium. Schools are free to tailor this letter to their own design and send it to the parents of their pupils.
DFE Pupil Premium letter template
The link below provides further information about the Pupil Premium.
Under current regulations only children whose parents/guardians are in receipt of any of the following will be entitled to free school lunches:
- Universal Credit with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400
- Income Support (IS)
- Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (IBJSA)
- An Income–related employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Child Tax Credit (with no Working Tax Credit) with an annual income of no more than £16,190
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of the State Pension Credit
- Where they are entitled to Child Tax Credit and also Working Tax Credit during the four week period immediately after their employment ceases, or after they start to work less than 16 hours per week, their children are entitled to free school meals*
No other entitlements (such as a NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate card, Foster Care allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Housing Benefit or a Certificate of Taxable Incapacity Benefit) are relevant for a claim.
The definition of “parent” is any person who has care of the child. So in a case of private fostering the child has potentially four parents – two natural ones and two foster parents, since the foster parents have care of the child. If a child is living with two parents/carers, the claim is based upon the benefits for the whole family. If parents are considered by Inland Revenue to be two separate families, then the claim is based upon the benefits of the parent who makes the claim. This is regardless of whether the other parent (even if it is the one the child lives with) is claiming working tax credit.
A parent can begin claiming free school meals from any age, but the child must be receiving education both before and after the lunchtime so, for example, nursery children attending only in the morning are not entitled to a free meal. There is nothing in the legislation to state that the education before or after the lunch period must last a particular minimum or maximum length of time. Children who attend nursery school for half a day but remain at the same school for childcare purposes the other half of the day are not entitled to receive free school meals.
Most of the current benefits that attract eligibility for Free School Meals (Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Based Employment and Support Allowance and Child Tax Credit) are being phased out by the government and replaced by Universal Credit. To stop any child instantly losing their Free School Meals solely due to their parents being moved to Universal Credit or the introduction of the income limit, the DfE have introduced the following transitional protections:
- From 1 April 2018, existing free school meals claimants will continue to receive free school meals until March 2022 (when the roll out of Universal Credit is complete) regardless of whether their benefits situation changes.
- Any child gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will also be protected against losing free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period (until March 2022).
- After March 2022 (once Universal Credit is fully rolled out), any existing claimants that no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because they are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).
- The only exception to the above is the small number of pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals due to receiving the Guarantee element of State Pension or Credit support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. These are not being replaced by Universal Credit and transitional protection will not apply to these pupils.
If schools need further information about transitional protection we have produced an FAQ document via the link below:
Proof of Benefit
It is not for schools to calculate a family’s annual taxable income. The Inland Revenue will perform this income calculation and it is this figure that should be used when determining entitlement. Each time a tax credit award is calculated, the Inland Revenue will automatically issue a Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602) to the applicant. The award notice will set out the annual income and key family details. This notice includes details of all the information that is required to assess a child’s free school meal eligibility. Under the ‘child tax credit’ category’ therefore we strongly suggest that this document is used to make that assessment.
Similarly, it is strongly suggested that the Pension Credit Award Notice, issued automatically by The Pension Service to all those in receipt of Pension Credits, is used to assess a child’s free school meal eligibility under the ‘Guarantee State Pension Credit’ category.
A letter (which needs to be updated on a termly basis) from the National Asylum Support Service (Tel: 0845 602 1739) is required as proof of support under Immigration and Asylum Act (Document SAL1 is not sufficient).
For evidence showing current receipt of Income Support, the person claiming the benefit should contact 'Job Centre Plus' on 0845 6088573 quoting their national insurance number. The Job Centre will be able to provide them with a current statement of entitlement. If this is urgently required, a manual copy should be requested.
The following options are available to schools to supply free school meals:
- Schools with their own food preparation facilities, could provide pupils with a free school meal directly.
- Alternatively the school could purchase a packed lunch from an alternative provider but they would need to ensure that the lunches meet the nutritional standards and comply with relevant Health and Safety regulations.
Meal Provision for Boarders
Schools with boarding provision generally provide a free school meal to all their boarding pupils. However to record a pupil as eligible for a free school meal on their census return, schools must still confirm that the parents/guardians are in receipt of one of the benefits stated above and the pupil must be in receipt of a free meal.
Information contained in the form is personal data and is therefore subject to the Data Protection Act 1998 and from May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).