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Free school meals

Parents who receive certain benefits are eligible to apply for free school meals for their child.


Children may be able to get free school meals if their parent/carer gets at least one of the following: 

  • Universal Credit (as long as you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance 
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • The Guaranteed Element of Pension Credit 
  • Support under part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit - provided you are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of no more than £16,190
  • A 'run-on' of Working Tax Credit (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

If you're currently getting Working Tax Credit, or if you have a partner who is getting Working Tax Credit, regardless of your income, you won't qualify for free school meals.

Post-16 students

Post-16 students can get free school meals if they attend a sixth form based in Middlesbrough. If your child attends a further education college, they should apply for free meals by contacting the college directly.

Universal infant free school meals

All children in Key Stage One (which includes reception, year one, and year two) are entitled to free school meals. Parents who are on benefits and meet the eligibility criteria above are encouraged to apply for additional funding known as Pupil Premium. This funding will help increase your child's attainment as well as being used to fund valuable support within the school.

Transitional protection

From 1 April 2018, all existing free school meals claimants will continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This will apply even if their earnings rise above the new threshold during that time.

  • In addition, any child who becomes eligible for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout period.
  • Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, any existing claimants who no longer meet the eligibility criteria (above) at that point will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary)
  • Transitional protection applies to all children whether eligible through legacy benefits or Universal Credit
  • Transitional protections are put in place on an individual child basis, not on a family basis
  • This means that younger children will not become entitled to free school meals just because their older sibling is getting transitional protection. The younger child must meet the eligibility criteria at the time the application is made to become eligible for free school meals.
  • The introduction of Universal Credit is expected to be completed by March 2023

How to claim free school meals

You can claim free school means by:

What happens next

Once your claim has been assessed, a letter will be sent to let you know the outcome. If you qualify for free school meals, we'll tell your child's school.

Contact us
Phone: 01642 726541
Free School Meals
PO Box 2