Free School Meals

The Social Security Act 1986, means that the Council can provide Free School Meals (FSM) to children whose parents or who themselves are in receipt of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit with an annual income less than £16,190 (you are not entitled if you also receive Working Tax Credit)
  • Income Related Employment Support Allowance
  • The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit (where the monthly net earned income is not more than £616.67)

With effect from 1st April 2019, the Welsh Government has introduced an annualised earned income threshold of £7,400 for Universal Credit claimants who wish to claim free school meals for their children. At the same time, the Welsh Government has introduced a programme of transitional protection to protect families from losing eligibility for free school meals until the end of the rollout of Universal Credit and thereafter to the end of the school phase (primary, secondary).

Transitional Protection

1.       Any pupil eligible for free school meals at the point of 1st April 2019 will have their eligibility protected. This will apply to all applicants until the end of the rollout of Universal Credit, regardless of whether their circumstances change.

2.       Any pupil who becomes eligible under the amended criteria during the rollout of Universal Credit will also retain their eligibility until the end of Universal Credit rollout, regardless of whether their circumstances change.

3.       Once the rollout of Universal Credit has completed, any transitionally protected child will continue to be transitionally protected until the end of their current phase of education, e.g. primary / secondary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are children still protected if their parents stop receiving Benefits entirely?

Yes, pupils remain protected until the end of UC roll out and then to the end of their current phase of education, regardless of whether their circumstances change.

What happens if the child moves to live with another family member who does not meet the eligibility criteria or leaves the area?

The protection is awarded to the individual child. If they move to live with another family member, they will keep their protection, even if the family member they move to live with does not meet the eligibility criteria. If the child moves to another Authority then they will still keep their protection.

If I am receiving free school meals for my eldest child prior to 1st April 2019, will the transitional protection cover their sibling who doesn’t start school until September 2019?

If you receive free school meals prior to 1st April 2019 for a child who is currently in education, you will not automatically be entitled for any sibling who starts school after this date. The transitional protection only covers the child you receive free school meals for at the time. Your income will have to be assessed when a sibling starts school to see if you meet the new criteria for them.

Pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals may also be entitled to a clothing grant. See below for further details.

Pupil Development Grants

Get £125 to buy school uniform, equipment, sports kit and kit for activities outside of school for your child.

New school years are now eligible and the criteria has been extended to include laptops or tablets.

Learners eligible for free school meals can apply for this grant if they are:

  • in reception class at primary school from September 2021
  • in school years 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 from September 2021
  • in a special school, special needs resource base or pupil referral unit and are aged 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 from September 2021

For Year 7 learners the grant is £200, recognising the increased costs associated with starting secondary school.

Pupils who receive Free School Meals due to transitional protection arrangements do not qualify for this funding. Please refer to the ‘Free School Meals’ section above for further information.

Funding for looked-after children is available in every school year. The Local Authority in which the ‘looked after child’ attends school is responsible for issuing the grant

Families are only entitled to claim once per child, per school year. Payments will be issued based on automated eligibility checks and these checks will be carried out on a regular basis. The payment will normally be made in to your bank account, we may need to contact you to obtain this information.

Funding for the 2020 to 2021 scheme is now closed. The new scheme for 2021 to 2022 will be open from 15 July 2021.

PLEASE NOTE – you will only need to apply for the grant or Free School Meals if your child is in Reception or Year 7 in September. For all other years we hold the details and will contact you directly. If you have not been contacted by the second week of August, please contact the Benefits Team on 01495 742291 or 742377.

How do I apply for free school meals and the uniform grant?

Complete the online free school meals/uniform grant application form below

The shared benefit service at Torfaen Council are dealing with free school meals on behalf of the Authority.  You can view the full privacy notice here which will provide further details on how your information is managed.

The Shared Benefit Service can be contacted on 0300 456 3559 or emailed at