Have you received a letter about the free school meal audit? Click here for further advice.
Apply now for free school meals
Free school meals are available for any eligible child who attends a mainstream school or academy on a full time basis.
Am I eligible for free school meals?
This includes school sixth form students and children who attend full days at nursery school or classes. Meals are not available for students in further education.
Your children may be entitled to free school meals if you receive one of the following qualifying benefits:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- income-related employment and support allowance
- support from the National Asylum Support Service under part VI of the Immigrations and Asylum Act 1999
- Child Tax Credit with no element of Working Tax Credit and a household income below £16,190
- the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
If you are a young person who receives income support or income based jobseeker's allowance in your own right, you are also entitled to receive free school meals.
How do I apply?
You should apply to the local authority where your children go to school. The person receiving the benefit should complete the application.
If you have a child starting school for the first time and you already receive free school meals for other children, you will need to complete a new application for the additional child.
You do not need to re-apply annually if your child already receives them. Your claim will continue unless you have a change in circumstances.
Click here to apply for free school meals.
What happens next?
We check free school meals eligibility using an online checking system, provided by the Department for Education. This system links with your benefit provider and confirms whether or not you are eligible for free school meals. It does not provide us with any other information.
Applications are processed within 5 to 10 working days, or sooner in quieter periods. Sometimes we may need to contact you to provide more information before we can make a decision.
We will write to tell you the outcome of your application and what date your child's free school meals will start. We will also let the school know. Successful claims will start from the date we received your application or the date handed in at a school, providing we can confirm proof of benefit.
You must let us know immediately about any change of circumstance by contacting us at the email or postal address below. If your entitlement ends, it will end on the same date your benefit stops. If this means that your child has already been receiving free meals when they were no longer eligible, because you did not tell us about the change to your circumstances, you may be required to pay back any monies owed to their school.
Frequently asked questions
I have received a letter telling me that the council has checked its records and cannot see proof that I am receiving any qualifying benefits and that free school meals for my child/children will stop. Why is this?
- We check all free school meals applicants on a regular basis to make sure they are still eligible for free school meals. If you have received a letter stating that you are no longer eligible, this is likely to be because your circumstances and/or qualifying benefits have changed. If you think you are still eligible, you will need to reapply. Please contact us.
What should I provide as proof of benefit?
- Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and Income-related Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) please provide a copy of a recent Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Jobcentre letter granting the benefit. This must be dated within 28 days of the application.
- Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit - please supply a copy of your most recent HM Revenue and Customs Tax Credit award notice (TC602).
We will also accept photocopies signed and stamped as seen by your school's secretary and returned to us via the schools' post system.
What if I don't have any of these forms of proof?
Without proof that you are entitled to one of the qualifying benefits, we will not be able to process your application. If you do not have the necessary proof of benefit, please contact the relevant office to request it.
Help and support
Phone us on 0191 278 7878 if you have any questions
Write to us at: Admissions and Information Service, Newcastle City Council, room 225, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH