Free school meals

There are two schemes for free school meals:

  • universal infant free school meals for all children in reception year, year 1 and year 2 – you don’t need to apply as they’re automatically given at the school
  • free school meals for people on qualifying benefits – you’ll need to apply for these

If you claim qualifying benefits and your child is entitled to universal infant school meals, you should still apply for free school meals so:

  • you’re eligible for other financial assistance for items such as school trips
  • the school can receive funding for the free school meals

Qualifying benefits for free school meals

Your child will be entitled to free school meals if you get any of these benefits:

  • income support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit with annual take home pay/met earnings below £7,400 (which equals £616.67 per month) benefits not included

How to apply

Free school meals entitlement is for the child, not the family, so you will need to apply for each child when they start school.

If your child is starting primary school in September, you should apply during the summer holidays as we cannot deal with your application earlier. Applying too early could result in your application being removed.

If your child was eligible to free school meals in another council area, and now due to start at a North Somerset school. You will need to apply on our system so we can transfer your eligibility.

You will need your National insurance number to apply.

If you are eligible

If you are eligible you will be able to download an eligibility letter.

If you require free school meals immediately, please show this letter to the school and remember to keep a copy of the letter in case the school asks to see it again.

You can print it, download it or screenshot it. We will also notify schools of eligible pupils via a report. This may take up to 10 working days, so please do download your eligibility letter.

Under the current rules, you do not need to reapply.

If you do re-apply you may lose your entitlement based on a new assessment.

If your child moves from primary to secondary school in North Somerset in September 2022 your free school meals will automatically update to the new school, you do not have to do anything.

If your application isn’t successful

If your application isn’t successful, check your National Insurance number and try again. If this doesn’t work, select the ‘referral’ button to let us know what benefits you are on and we’ll ask you for evidence.

When to reapply

Due to the roll-out of Universal Credit, all pupils who are currently eligible for free school meals will be protected until the end of the primary, secondary or sixth form school they are currently in as of March 2023.

This means:

  • If your child stays in the same school, you don’t need to do anything. Your free school meals will continue – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement.
  • If your child moves from primary to secondary school in North Somerset, you don’t need to do anything. Your free school meals will continue and we will update the new school – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement. The exception is if your child moves from a non-North Somerset school to a North Somerset school, then you will need to apply on our free school meals system so we can transfer your eligibility.
  • If your child moves school during the school year, please email fsm@n-somerset.gov.uk and we will update your free school meals record for you – please do not reapply as you may lose your entitlement.

Children do not receive free school meals in college.

If your child changes address, please email fsm@n-somerset.gov.uk so we can update your free school meals record.

If your child has free school meals at a school outside of North Somerset and they are changing to a North Somerset school, you will need to reapply on our system so we can transfer your eligibility.

We will update this page should the guidance change.