Free school meals
Tower Hamlets benefits service is responsible for administering claims for free school meals on behalf of the council’s education department.
They are available to children attending schools within Tower Hamlets.
Pupils Attending Infant School
There is national provision to provide universal free schools meals regardless of the parent(s) income.
Pupils Attending Primary School
Tower Hamlets council has extended universal free school meals provision to include children of residents of the borough who attend primary school.
Children Attending Nursery and Pupils in Secondary Education
Qualification for free school meals is predicated on the parent(s) being in receipt of 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 Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income of £16,190 or less
- 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 (provided their annual net earned income does not exceed £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of the most recent monthly assessment periods).*But please see “Transitional Protection, below.
Children of Parents in Receipt of Universal Credit
Prior to 1 April 2018 children of parents in receipt of Universal Credit were entitled to free school meals. However, the Government has now limited eligibility for UC recipients by introducing a net annual earnings cap of £7,400, (£616.66 per month).
To ensure families were not disadvantaged during the Universal Credit roll-out operation, children who were getting Free School Meals on 31 March 2018, (including those children whose entitlement was based on the national universal FSM provisions) will continue to be entitled until UC is fully rolled out nationally regardless of any changes to the parents income.
How to claim free school meals
The child’s parent (or guardian) must make a claim either by:
- completing a paper copy of the claim form available from schools, our One Stop Shops or by telephoning the benefits service on 020 7364 5001
- making a claim for housing and/or council tax benefit (which also counts as a claim for free school meals – you do not need to complete a separate form in this case)
Information and evidence required
- the child’s name, date of birth and school
- evidence of the parent’s (or guardian’s) income (unless this has been provided already)
Telling us about changes in circumstances affecting entitlement to free school meals
If you stop getting income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, pension guarantee credit or your annual income increases above the threshold amount or if you start to get working tax credit your child’s entitlement to free school meals will end.
Remember you must tell the benefits service about any changes to your income or circumstances. For example you must tell us if you child changes school and if you change address.
Children who attend schools in Tower Hamlets but whose parents live outside the borough
Some local authorities have reciprocal arrangements with Tower Hamlets. You would need to contact Tower Hamlets education services for advice.
Children whose parents live in the borough but who attend schools outside the borough
Parents should apply to the authority where the school is located – the school secretary should be able to give you more information about this.
If your child or children are not entitled to free school meals you can appeal. However, the decision not to grant free school meals does not come under the normal benefit appeals process and cannot be changed unless you can show that the information used in making the decision was incorrect.
If you wish to discuss making an appeal, please call on 020 7364 5006. Appeals are dealt with by the council’s education department, not the benefits service.
Personal callers should visit their nearest One Stop Shop to hand in claim forms, obtain receipts and have original evidence photocopied.