Free school meals and clothing vouchers

Find out if your child or children can get free school meals and clothing vouchers. In certain circumstances free school meals are available to families with no recourse to public funds.


Free schools meals are available to statutory school aged children attending full time education. Full education is full days 9am to 3pm, this excludes private nurseries and further education colleges.

Benefits you receive

Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:

  • 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 guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit - Provided you're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit. Also your annual gross income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Benefits your child receives

Children who get paid these benefits paid to them, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

Your child may also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:

If your child is eligible for free school meals, they'll remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they're in on 31 March 2023.

If you receive working tax credits you may not be eligible for free school meals or clothing grants.

Any child receiving Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance in their own right is also entitled to get free school meals.

Families with no recourse to public funds (anyone who is subject to immigration controls)

Families who may be eligible include (but are not limited to):

  • Zambrano carers
  • have the right to remain in the UK under Article 8 of the ECHR
  • receiving support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 AND are subject to a NRPF condition
  • Chen carers
  • families holding a BNO passport
  • spousal visa holders
  • Work visa holders
  • Student visa holders
  • those with no immigration status

Income of families applying for free school meals

To be eligible for free school meals, your family's annual household income must be no higher than:

  • £22,700 for families outside of London with one child
  • £26,300 for families outside of London with two or more children

This includes any wider income or support you may be getting and any earnings from employment.

You must also have less than £16,000 in savings, including any shares, investments and bank accounts, but not including your home.

If you are eligible, contact us.

Free School Meals Service
Telephone: 0300 373 3730

Apply for free school meals and school clothing vouchers

If you already get free school meals and clothing grants you do not need to apply for each school year.

Apply for free school meals and school clothing vouchers

Where possible all parents and guardians should apply online. You will need to register on the Citizen Portal to do this.

If you are unable to apply online please contact the free school meals team.

Telephone: 0300 373 3730

After you have applied

If you apply online you will receive an immediate response telling you if you are eligible for the vouchers.

You do not need to re-apply every year. 

We carry out regular electronic checks of all applicants currently claiming free school meals, to confirm they are still eligible. We will only contact you if we are unable to confirm your eligibility. We will then ask you to provide further information to support your application.

If your details or circumstance change

You must let us know if anything changes. 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 us know by updating your application details online

If you are unable to update your details online, please let the team know

Telephone: 0300 373 3730

If you have another child who is starting school

Even if you are already getting free school meals and school clothing vouchers for your other children, you need to apply for each child starting school for the first time. (For example - new starters in a reception class).

You will need to submit a new application for that child only, regardless of whether older siblings are in get free school meals.

If your child changes school

You do not have to apply again. You can use the same form to name each child and say which school they go to.

School meal vouchers in the school holidays

If you already applied and qualify for free school meals, you will automatically receive a voucher during the school holidays. Your school will buy the vouchers on your behalf. 

If you have any questions about holiday vouchers please speak to your child's school.

Free School Meals and Clothing Grants