Update due to COVID-19 (coronavirus)
The government has announced that low-income families whose children are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support. This will be available to all children who currently receive a free school meal, even if they are no longer attending school due to closures related to COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Visit our web page about free school meals during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic for more information if:
- you're already entitled to free school meals and want to find out about vouchers
- you don't currently receive free school meals and want to make a new application during COVID-19
Guidance for schools
We've produced this guidance for schools about free school meals during COVID-19.
Apply for free school meals
Your child will qualify for free school meals if they're in full-time education and you receive one of the following benefits:
- income support
- income based job seekers allowance
- income related employment and support allowance
- guarantee element of state pension credit
- child tax credit with no working tax credit and have an income as assessed by the Inland Revenue that does not exceed £16,190 (subject to change annually)
- support under Part 1V of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- 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 receive)
Children who receive a qualifying benefit in their own right are also entitled to receive free school meals.
Your child won’t qualify for free school meals if you're receiving working tax credits and disabled working tax credits, except for the 4 week run-on paid after you've stopped qualifying for working tax credits.
Changes to free school meal entitlement - universal credit rollout
From April 2018 the criteria used to determine which pupils are eligible for free school meals was updated to reflect the introduction of Universal Credit and the phasing out of other income-based benefits.
Transitional protection as part of Universal Credit rollout
To ensure families are not disadvantaged during this rollout, protection arrangements have been put in place.
This means that:
- Any child eligible for free school meals on 31 March 2018 will retain their eligibility until the end of the rollout, March 2022 regardless of whether their circumstances change.
- Any child who becomes eligible during the rollout of universal credit (from 1 April 2018 to March 2022) will retain their eligibility until the end of the rollout, March 2022 regardless of whether their circumstances change.
- Once the rollout of universal credit is complete, no child will lose their entitlement and will continue to be transitionally protected until the end of their current phase of education.
Transitional Protection applies to all children whether eligible through legacy benefits or Universal Credit.
A pupil is only eligible to receive a free school meal when a claim for the meal has been made on their behalf and we have verified their eligibility. We will continue to use the DfE Eligibility Checking System (ECS) to determine eligibility for free school meals.
Transitional protection is on an individual child basis and not on a family basis. This means that other children in the family will not automatically be entitled to free school meals. Children must meet the eligibility criteria at the time the application for free school meals is made in order to be entitled.
Universal infant free school meals
All infant age pupils (Reception/Years 1 and 2) are entitled to receive a free school meal.
Although infant children will automatically receive a free school meal, we're asking families who have a statutory entitlement to free school meals to complete an application form online so that we can check if the school is entitled to receive Pupil Premium for your child.
The Pupil Premium grant is provided by the Government for each eligible child, and can be up to £1,320 additional funding to support your child's education and fund valuable support and resources in school.
Even if you don’t want your child to receive a free school meal, we'd ask you to complete the application form so that your child’s school receives as much funding as possible.
Apply for free school meals if you live in Barnsley
If you live in Barnsley and your child goes to school in Barnsley, Bradford, or Kirklees, fill in the application for free school meals.
If you live in Barnsley, but your child goes to school in Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield, Leeds or Wakefield, you should apply to the council in the town where your child’s school is situated.
Apply for free school meals if you live outside Barnsley
If you live in Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield, Leeds or Wakefield, but your child goes to school in Barnsley, fill in our application for free school meals.
If you live in Bradford or Kirklees, but your child attends school in Barnsley, you should apply to the council offices where you live for your child’s free school meals.
What happens next
When we receive and process your application, we’ll write to you to confirm your entitlement. We’ll also notify the school, via a secure portal, that your child can have free school meals. Schools will make sure this information is treated with the strictest confidence and handled sensitively.
If you've applied for infant free school meals (Reception/Y1 and Y2), we won't write to you to confirm your entitlement as your child will automatically receive a free school meal.
Changes you must tell us about
You must tell us straight away if:
- your benefits change
- your child leaves school or moves to another address
- your child moves school
- you move to another address
- you start work or, if you’re already working, you increase your normal hours, work overtime, or get a pay rise.
You don't need to re-apply for school meals if you move address or your child changes schools - we can change the details on our system and inform schools. We'll also check your benefit details.
Other benefits you may be entitled to if your child gets free school meals
If your child receives free school meals, they'll qualify for free school milk.
They'll also be entitled to a group instrumental music lesson at a third of the normal price and free hire of an instrument. The lessons have to be provided by Barnsley Music Service.
Automatic award for free school meals
The Government allows us to use housing benefit information we already hold to identify households who may meet the criteria for free school meals, but have not yet made an application. By automatically awarding free school meals your child doesn't have to have a meal, but it makes sure the school receives extra funding (Pupil Premium).
We provide the electronic free school meals checking service using your surname, National Insurance number and date of birth, and it gives us a yes or no in relation to your eligibility.
We don't see any other information about you or your family, and we're not allowed to ask anything else from the Department of Work and Pensions, Inland Revenue or the Benefits Agency. The information is kept securely and we follow strict procedures about how we look after your personal information under the Data Protection Act. It would be illegal for us to misuse or share details about you for any other purpose that you don’t know about and agree with.
If you don’t want to have your information used for the automatic award then please contact us. Your information will not be checked for entitlement and will be taken off the lists we send to schools.
We’ll use the information from your free school meals application form, and any supporting evidence you send us, to process your claim. We’ll not give information about you to anyone else, or use information about you for other purposes, unless the law allows us to. Please get in touch if you’d like to know what information we have about you or how we use it.