Free school meals and clothing vouchers

Universal Credit earning threshold for free school meals from 1 April

From 1 April 2018, the government introduced a Universal Credit earning threshold of £ 7,400 per year for free school meal eligibility.

This means that some families who are eligible now would not be if they apply after 1 April. Also, children eligible for free school meals by 1 April will continue to receive them until at least 2022, without the need for further eligibility checks while Universal Credit is rolled out across the country.

If you receive Universal Credit and are not already claiming free school meals for your children, or you have not applied as your child is currently in Key Stage 1 (universal free school meals), make sure you don't miss out and apply online now.


Free school meals and clothing vouchers are available for your child(ren) if you are receiving one of the following qualifying benefits:

  • Income Support (IS);

  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA);

  • An income-related Employment and Support Allowance;

  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999;

  • Child Tax Credit, provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) that as of April 2012 does not exceed £ 16,190. Note: From 1st May 2009 where you are entitled to Working Tax Credit during the four-week period immediately after your employment ceases, or after you start to work less than 16 hours per week, your children are entitled to Free School Meals, this may be extended.

  • The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit;

  • Universal Credit

Please note: If you are in receipt of working tax credits you may not be eligible for free school meals or clothing grants.

Children who receive Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance in their own right are also entitled to receive Free School Meals.

Free schools meals are available to statutory school aged children attending full time education (full days only e.g. 9.00am to 3.00pm), excluding private nurseries and further education colleges.

  • Where possible all parents and guardians should apply online - you will receive an immediate response advising you whether you are eligible or not  
  • if you are unable to apply online please contact the free school meals team - telephone: 01228 606060.

Please note: all children who currently receive free school meals and clothing grants do not need to apply each year.

Where a child requires free school meals for the first time in September (eg new starters in Reception), a new application will need to be submitted for that child only, regardless of whether older siblings are in receipt of free school meals.

No, you can use the same form to name each child and say which school they go to.

No, you don't need to re-apply every year. 

Regular electronic checks of all applicants currently claiming free school meals will be carried out by the free school meals service to confirm continued eligibility.  You will only be contacted if we are unable to confirm your eligibility and will request further information is provided.

It is important that you tell the free school meal team of any change in circumstances including:

  • change of personal details, for example name or address
  • if you stop being the primary carer of the child(ren) you are claiming for.

You can let the team know by updating your details online.

If you are unable to update your details online, please let the team know by telephone: 01228 606060 or by email: FSM.ClothingGrants@cumbria.gov.uk