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Free school meals

Plymouth City Council will process all applications and answer any queries regarding eligibility. However, if you have any concerns or queries regarding the free school meal provision please contact the school your child attends.

If you have a child attending a school or 6th form and you receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to claim free school meals.  Plymouth City Council is able to check your eligibility online, therefore minimising the need to provide proof of your entitlement.

It is of great benefit for your child’s school if you are entitled to free school meals as they receive extra school funding for all children who qualify.  Please contact your child’s school for details of their Pupil Premium Policy.

Plymouth City Council has a five day turnaround for all free school meals applications and will advise your child’s school of the date the free school meals start.

Plymouth City Council does not administer free school meals applications for Plymstock School and Coombe Dean School. If your child attends one of these schools, you should apply through Devon County Council.

Qualifying benefits

If you are in receipt of the following support payments, your child may be entitled to receive free school meals:

  • Universal Credit – provided 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 (IS)
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (IRESA)
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, that does not exceed £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (the payment someone receives for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Children who receive a qualifying benefit in their own right are also allowed to receive free school meals.

No recourse to public funds (NRPF)

Eligibility for free school meals has been permanently extended to children from all families with NRPF, subject to the following maximum income thresholds:

  • £22,700 per annum for families outside London with one child
  • £26,300 per annum for families outside London with two or more children

These groups include children of Zambrano carers / NRPF families with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights / NRPF families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 / a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 / Chen carers / families holding a BN(O) passport / spousal visa holders / work visa holders / student visa holders / those with no immigration status.

If you think you may be eligible, please complete the attached application form and return to us with the relevant supporting documents for both immigration category and income. Your child’s school may be able to assist with the completion of the form.

Any applications submitted without supporting documents will be refused.

Transitional protection

All existing free school meals claimants will continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This will apply even if your earnings rise above the new threshold during that time.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, if you no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because you are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) your child will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).

The Universal Credit rollout is currently expected to complete by the end of 2024.

Universal infant free school meals

In 2014, the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) policy was introduced, stipulating that all children in England’s state funded schools in reception, year 1 and year 2 are entitled to a free school lunch. This includes academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provisions as well as maintained schools.

If you receive one of the qualifying benefits for standard Free School Meals, complete an application form as your child’s school can get extra funding if you do.

Free school meals for nursery children

Free school meals are available for 2, 3 and 4 year olds in the following school based nursery units, if the child attends both the morning and afternoon session on the same day, and parents are in receipt of qualifying benefits (see above):

  • Academies
  • Beechwood Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Eggbuckland Vale Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Elburton Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Ernesettle Community School and Nursery Unit
  • Ford Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • High Street Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Knowle primary School
  • Leigham Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Marine Academy Nursery
  • Mayflower Community School and Nursery Unit
  • Morice Town Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Mount Street Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Mount Wise Community Primary School & Nursery Unit
  • Millbay Academy (Plymouth School of  Creative Arts)
  • Oreston Community Academy Nursery
  • Plaistow Hill Infant School and Nursery Unit
  • Pomphlett Primary School
  • Shakespeare Primary School and Nusery Unit
  • St Edward's
  • St Mathews academy & Nursery Unit Mini Matts
  • Victoria Road
  • Weston Mill Primary & Nursery Unit
  • Widewell Primary Academy 
  • Woodfield Primary School & Nursery Unit
  • Maintained Nursery Schools
  • Ham Drive Day Care*
  • Plym Bridge Nursery School and Childrens Centre*
  • Maintained Schools
  • High View School
  • Mary Dean's CoE Primary School and Nursery Unit
  • Riverside Community Primary School & Nursery Unit
  • St Peter's CofE Primary School and Nursery Unit

Please note Plymouth City Council do not administer free school meals applications for Ham Drive Day Care and Plym Bridge Nursery School and Childrens Centre. 

How to apply

After you submit the completed form, the school are asked to confirm that your child is in attendance, we check for eligibility using a government on-line checking system and the result of this check is emailed to you and your child’s school.  It’s a quick and easy process and you could benefit from this scheme.

Email or call 01752 307410 for more information.