Who can claim free school meals?
Generally, parents or carers who do not work, or who work less than 16 hours a week, are eligible to claim free school meals, as are students under the age of 19 who claim a qualifying benefit in their own right.
I receive working tax credit
You are not entitled to free school meals. Working tax credit is extra financial support claimed via H.M. Revenue and Customs for people working 16 hours or more a week but earning a low wage. The amount paid is based on your personal circumstances. This extra financial support means that you are not entitled to free school meals.
I qualify for free school meals, but the school will know about my financial situation if I apply. Can I apply without the school knowing how much I receive in benefits?
The arrangements for checking benefit evidence do not disclose how much you receive, or even which benefit you receive. See the free school meals eligibility checking process for more information.
Previously, I had to re-apply for free school meals each year - has this changed?
Yes. We can now re-use the information provided in your original application to make repeat automatic checks. This removes the need for you to keep re-applying. See the free school meals eligibility checking process for information on the checks that will be carried out.
I have just lost/given up my job - can I claim free school meals?
Yes. Where a parent is entitled to working tax credit during the four-week period immediately after their employment stops, or after they start to work less than 16 hours a week, their children will be entitled to free school meals. This is to cover the interim period before your benefit starts.
I am not sure whether I qualify for free school meals
If you have any doubt as to whether you can claim free school meals, please telephone our Customer Services team on 0345 678 9000 for helpful advice.
What do I do if my free school meal benefit stops?
Please notify the Free School Meals team immediately. Once your benefit stops you will have to make alternative arrangements for your child(ren)'s meals. If you fail to let us know, you may be charged for the full cost of any meals taken from the date your benefit stopped.
Why have my free school meals been cancelled?
This could be for many reasons. Please call our Customer Services team on 0345 678 9000 who will be happy to help and advise you.
My children all go to different schools - should I fill a separate application form for free school meals for each child?
The award is made for the family/household. You can include all your children on one form, so long as they all attend schools in Shropshire. Shropshire parents whose children attend schools in another local authority area should contact that authority for the award of free school meals.
My child has just started school and already has brothers and sisters who get free school meals - do I need to reapply?
Yes. You need to re-apply so that the new child can be included in the family's current free school meals award.
Don't worry if your child is in reception, and is currently only attending part time. The award can be put into place now, but will only become 'active' once the child attends school full time.