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 have a 5 day turn around for all free school meals applications, and will advise your child’s school of the date the free school meals start.

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

  • Universal Credit – from 1 April 2018 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.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, free school meal eligibility will temporarily include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). These groups are:

  • Children of Zambrano carers.
  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on ground of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction.

If you are in one of these groups and wish to apply you must seek advice through the school your child attends. We cannot determine eligibility through our checking system therefore these applications will need to be completed with school.

Please Note that 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 your earnings rise above the new threshold during that time. In addition, any child gaining eligibility 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, 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 in March 2023.

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 the 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.

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.

Apply for free school meals


Email or call 01752 307410 for more information.