Free School Meals

Whether your child is starting school for the first time in September or if you already have children on roll at school, you may not be aware whether you are entitled to claim Free School Meals.

By registering your child for Free School Meals means our school receives additional funds which can assist with purchasing additional resources to aid achievement.

Registering your child is confidential and it will not affect any other benefits you are claiming.

Can my children have free school meals?

Yes, if you get Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance (income based) , Income Related Employment and Support Allowance and you receive Child Tax Credit but you are not entitled to a Working Tax Credit and your annual income does not exceed £16,190, or support under part VI of the Immigration Asylum Act 1999, or Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit,  your children will be able to have free school meals. Free school meals cannot be granted on a discretionary basis.  You must also live in Lancashire.

How do I apply for free school meals?

To apply, one option is to contact your Area Education Office by phone (for details see the Contacts tab above).   If you provide them with your name, date of birth and National Insurance number they can immediately check your entitlement via the DFE Electronic free school meals checking service.

Alternatively, you can complete an application form. These are available from your child’s school or your local Area Education Office, or downloadable from this site.

The completed application form should be sent to your local Area Education Office

Proof of benefit

The Council checks your entitlement for your children’s free school meals via the Government’s new benefits database.  The check will only identify whether you are entitled or not.

If the check indicates that you are not entitled, this does not mean that your children are not automatically entitled to free school meals.

If you feel your children are still entitled to free school meals and you can provide proof of your entitlement then a manual assessment of your claim can be undertaken.

Proof of benefit can be demonstrated by:

  • Income Support (Proof required is sight of or copy of all pages of the letter from DWP/Jobcentre Plus dated within 1 month of application showing breakdown of income support payment)
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance / Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (Proof required is sight of or copy of all pages of the letter which shows breakdown of jobseekers allowance / Employment Support Allowance dated within 1 month of application)
  • Child Tax Credit (Proof required is sight or copy of complete TC602 Inland Revenue tax credit award notice, for current tax year)
  • Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit (Proof required is sight of or copy of your Pension Credit M1000 Award Notice)
  • Asylum Seekers (Proof required is sight of or copy of NASS support notice or IS96 document including details of authority providing support under part IV of the Immigration and Asylum act 1999. You will be required to supply:
    • NASS reference number
    • port reference number
    • name of authority

How often do I have to apply?

You should apply when you first start to receive benefit. Your eligibility will be reviewed every 6 months.  Your children will continue to receive free school meals unless you are notified.  You therefore do not need to re-apply each year.

How will the school know my child does not have to pay for school meals?

The schools concerned will be notified directly by the Council that your child/children can have a school meal free of charge. Each school makes its own arrangements for notifying the dinner service staff of who is to receive a free school meal.

What if my circumstances change?

You should contact your local area education office to advise them of any changes to your personal circumstances such as:

  • if you start work and come off benefit
  • if you change address
  • if your child changes school

If my child gets Income Support in his/her own right is he/she entitled to free school meals?

Yes, any young person who is over 16 and attending a school sixth form or special school and gets Income Support / Income Based Jobseekers Allowance in their own right is entitled to free school meals, whatever their parents’ income.

PLEASE NOTE: if you get free meals and your child has to go on work experience, you will be able to claim a refund for any lunches you have provided. Ask for details from the school.

You may now apply online for free school meals direct with Lancashire County Council. Please click here to do this.

Application form

If you think that you are entitled, then all you need to do is complete the downloadable form downloadable and send it to:

Level 1 Christ Church Precinct
County Hall
Preston
PR1 8RJ
United Kingdom

Address and contact details, including phone numbers of each department can be access directly on their page here.

You may also telephone the school directly if you require further information or assistance in filling in the application form.

Lancashire County FSM Advice