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Free school meals and e codes - criteria guidance



If you have children in reception, year 1 or year 2 and they go to a state school they are entitled to free school meals regardless of your household income.


From year 3 onwards your children could get free lunches, and sometimes milk, at school if you are receiving one of the benefits below:


  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The Guarantee element of State 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’ – the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get) at the time of your application.  Thresholds vary in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If your income goes above the threshold in the future, but you remain on Universal Credit, your child will remain eligible.  If you applied before 1 April 2019 there was no household income threshold for Universal Credit claimants.