School meals are free for all state school pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 of primary school. These are known as 'universal infant free school meals'. (Please contact your child's school directly if you have any queries about these.)
However, if your family are living on a low income and claiming certain benefits, your child may be able to get a free lunch until at least 2023 (known as 'benefit-related free school meals'). If your child qualifies for benefit-related free school meals, you should apply for this when they start school, not wait until after Year 2.
Your child's school and the pupil premium
The pupil premium is a government payment to schools, to boost the learning of children from lower income backgrounds. It's a major payment that can make a very large difference for schools. (For example, in 2020/21, it was £1345 per year for primary students, and £955 per year for secondary students). A school gets the money for every child who has (or has had) benefit-related free school meals, but the payment only starts when you apply.
If your child is eligible, but you do not apply immediately when they start school, they will still get a free lunch in their infant years, but their school could miss out on up to three years of pupil premium funding.
Your child is eligible for benefit-related free school meals (and therefore, their school will receive the pupil premium) if they are attending a state school in Bath and North East Somerset, and you are receiving one or more of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit (if your annual net earned income is £7,400 or less, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit, without any Working Tax Credit, and an annual household income of £16,190 or less (as assessed by HMRC - Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs)
- Four-week run-on Working Tax Credit (paid for four weeks after you STOP qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Please note that if you receive Working Tax Credit, your child will not be eligible for benefit-related free school meals (and their school will not receive the pupil premium).
If you have applied for Universal Credit, your child will only become eligible for free school meals when you receive your first Universal Credit payment.
Before you apply
You will need to supply the following information accurately and in full for us to process your application:
- Dates of birth for you, any other parent and guardian, and all of your children (we may use this information to refer you to additional benefits or support that you may be able to get)
- Contact details for you and any other parent or guardian
- Your National Insurance Number
- Your National Asylum Seeker Support Number (for applicants without a National Insurance Number)
How to apply
This is the quickest, easiest and most environmentally friendly way to apply for free school meals (or register your child's eligibility).
Call us on 01225 39 43 17 to make a telephone registration. You will need to supply all of the details in Before you apply, above. If the lines are busy, please leave a message with your telephone number, and we will call you back to complete your registration.
Print and complete this registration form and post it us at:
- People and Communities Finance
- Free School Meals
- Bath & North East Somerset Council
- Lewis House
- Manvers Street
- Bath BA1 1JG
You will hear from us about your child's eligibility within six working days.
If your circumstances change
Please let us know if your circumstances change in any of the following ways:
- You have an additional child starting school
- You move house (please also tell the school)
- You no longer qualify for any of the benefits listed above