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Children will be returning to school this week. It isn’t always clear which children are eligible for free school meals.
In the first instance, ALL children of “infant school age” – that is those in Reception, Year One and Year Two, will be provided with free school meals. This can be worth as much as £400 per year per child for a parent. And if you are in receipt of certain benefits (see below), do inform your local council as you might be entitled to other help and the school might receive some extra money.
What benefits entitle your child to free school meals? There are big changes coming up on this with the rollout of Universal Credit, but first, we’ll go through the “old” benefits.
At present, no person on a low income who is in work receives free school meals. If you are NOT working, then these benefits “passport” you for free school meals:
Universal Credit rules are a little different: you must have applied on or after 1st April 2018 and have a household income of less than £7,400 a year (AFTER TAX and NOT including any benefits you get).
Once you become eligible for free schools meals, your child will continue to receive them until 2022 (when UC is fully rolled out) and after that, until they finish the stage of schooling they are at (i.e. until the end of primary or secondary education), regardless of the increase in income.
How can I check eligibility and apply? Go to: https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals
If you enter your postcode you can click through to your local council page about free school meals and you can apply either through the council or directly to the school, depending on the information on the council’s page. For Bracknell Forest you can apply online through their website, for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead you apply directly to the school.
There may be other help with school costs such as uniforms, activities or transport to school. For more information see: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/education/school-education/help-with-school-costs/