If you have children in reception, year 1 or year 2 and they go to a state school they are entitled to free school meals regardless of your household income.
From year 3 onwards your children could get free lunches, and sometimes milk, at school if you are receiving one of the benefits below:
If your child is currently receiving free school meals, they’ll remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they’re in on 31 March 2022.
In addition to the eligibility rules above you can also claim in Scotland if you receive Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and your income is under £6,900. The household income limit for Universal Credit claimants is also slightly different at £610 a month.
The Universal Credit earnings threshold is £14,000 a year in Northern Ireland. You are also eligible in Northern Ireland if your child has a statement of special educational needs and is designated to need a special diet, or they board at a special school.
Free school meals are administered by local authorities or in Northern Ireland the local education and library boards. To make a claim contact your local authority (you can find contact details via the gov.uk website) or get more info and a form from your local education and library board.
With Healthy Start you can get:
If you're on certain benefits you could qualify. You'll need to be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four.
If you are pregnant and under the age of 18, you will automatically qualify whether or not you get other benefits.
You won't qualify if you get Working Tax Credit, unless it's just the four week extension of your payments - often called a 'run-on'. You may get a run-on after you stopped qualifying for Working Tax Credit - for example if you’ve stopped work or reduced your hours.
You don't have to get Child Benefit to qualify for Healthy Start. If you qualify for Healthy Start through Child Tax Credit, you’ll automatically get an application form in the post.
Healthy Start is administered by the Department of Health. To check that you qualify and to make a claim go to the Healthy Start website.
With Best Start, which has been available in Scotland since 12 August 2019, you can get:
If you are in Scotland and are already getting Healthy Start Vouchers you will eventually be moved from Healthy Start to Best Start.
You can get a Best Start payment card:
You can apply for Best Start when you're pregnant, or any time up to your child turning 3 years old. This goes up to 4 years old for a child:
Find out more about Best Start on the mygov.scot website.