Free School Meals

Who can get free school meals?

You are entitled to claim for free school meals if you receive one of the following:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA-IR)
  • Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB-JSA)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (BUT NOT entitled to Working Tax Credit and your annual income does not exceed £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit `run on` – during the four week period immediately after your employment ceases or after you start to work less than sixteen hours per week
  • Universal Credit

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.

Who can register for Pupil Premium?

If you receive one of the above benefits that entitle your child to free school meals, you can also register your eligibility with the council so that the school can benefit from additional funding, called pupil premium.

The pupil premium gives schools extra funding to raise the achievement of some pupils. This is measured by the number of children eligible for free school meals based on the above qualifying benefits. It is worth over £1000 per pupil for the school your child attends.

How to claim

If you think that you may be eligible, please complete the attached form and send it to the Pupil Access Team directly at: Pupil Access Team South, Level 1, Christ Church Precinct, County Hall, Preston, PR1 8XJ Tel: (01772) 531809

To register for free school meals and pupil premium:


The government’s website has information about who is eligible for free school meals, as well as information on how to apply.  Apply for free school meals at


By phone

If you have not claimed for free school meals for your child before ring your local area education office on (01772) 531809

It must be the person claiming the benefit that rings.

You will need to provide your name, date of birth and national insurance number.  They will confirm whether you are entitled immediately over the telephone.

By post

Download the application form and return it to your local area education office:

South Area Education Office

Pupil Access Team South
Level 1
Christ Church Precinct
County Hall
(01772) 531809

What happens next?

If you are eligible, we will let the school know that your child can have free school meals.

Each school has its own arrangements for letting the dinner service staff know who will be getting free school meals. Contact your school if you have any questions.

The County Council is now able to access the Government’s benefits eligibility database which will enable an immediate check on your entitlement to free school meals without you needing to produce documentary evidence, provided you complete the declaration overleaf. Please be aware that it may take up to 15 working days for your entitlement to receive a benefit to register on the database.

Proof of benefit / if the check shows that you are not entitled

You do not need to complete an application form every year. Once your children have been awarded free school meals they will continue to receive them throughout their school career unless you cease to receive one of the qualifying benefits. The automatic entitlement will cease when a pupil is at the end of Year 11. If your child is moving on to a school sixth form then you will need to apply again. You must advise the County Council immediately if your financial circumstances change and you are no longer entitled to receive free school meals for your children.

If you can provide proof of your entitlement then we can check your claim again if you show us or send us a copy of one of the following documents:

Income Support

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

All pages of the letter which shows the breakdown of jobseekers allowance / Employment Support Allowance dated within 1 month of application.

Child Tax Credit

Your complete TC602 Inland Revenue tax credit award notice, for the current tax year.

Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit

Your Pension Credit M1000 award notice.

Asylum Seekers

NASS support notice or IS96 document including details of authority providing support under part IV of the Immigration and Asylum act 1999. You will need to give us your:

  • NASS reference number
  • port reference number
  • name of authority

Contact your local area education office for more details.