The UK government funds free school meals for children in England who are attending a primary or secondary state school, free school, or academy.
Free school meals are provided for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2, and for all primary school children in certain local authority areas.
When free school meals are not provided universally, they are only available to certain children. A child will qualify for free school meals when their family receives certain benefits or asylum support, or when the child's family has no recourse to public funds and they meet an income threshold. The same qualifying requirements apply to children in full-time education who are younger than the compulsory school age.
Free school meals are not classed as a 'public fund' for immigration purposes and can be accessed by a child regardless of their immigration status when their family meets the qualifying requirements.
A child will be entitled to free school meals when the family are receiving Home Office asylum support provided under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This includes section 95 or section 98 asylum support.
A child will be entitled to free school meals when their parent (or the child) is receiving one of the following benefits:
A child will be entitled to free school meals when they meet the following requirements:
The parent(s) have no recourse to public funds
If the parent(s) are able to work, they have a household income of no more than:
Additionally, the family cannot have more than £16,000 in savings or investments.
Free school meals can be accessed by all families with no recourse to public funds who meet the income threshold, when this applies. This includes families that have leave to remain with a 'No Recourse to Public Funds' condition, families without lawful status in the UK, and families receiving section 4 Home Office asylum support.
Families can refer to the government information about free school meals and will need to check their local authority's website to find out how to apply. Families with no recourse to public funds will need to apply directly to their child's school. The school will assess and process the application in line with the government guidance.
Local authorities can refer to the government guidance Providing free school meals to families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF).