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Forest Academy

Free School Meals

Primary school children in state-funded schools in London will get free school meals for the 2023-24 school year. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is providing the funding as an emergency cost of living support measure. 

The Mayor recognises that families are in urgent need of support. The meals will help families with the spiralling cost of living by making sure that children in state-funded London schools will receive free school meals in this academic year.

The introduction of universal free school meals for the 2023-24 academic year could save families upwards of £440 per child*.

This is vital support to families who are facing a cost of living crisis. This funding will ensure that primary school children will get at least one nutritious meal a day. All children deserve that safety net.

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The Mayor of London's Universal Free School Meals Creative Challenge 2023 - Click here to get involved and win prizes  

Free school meals - Benefit related
Children whose parents receive the following may be entitled to free school meals:

  • income support
  • Universal Credit if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household earned income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
  • income-based jobseeker allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • child tax credit, and have an annual income that does not exceed £16,190 as assessed by Her Majesty& Revenue and Customs. (If you receive working tax credit as well as child tax credit you will not be entitled to free school meals).
  • the guarantee element of state pension credit

If your child is currently eligible for and getting free school meals (up until 31 March 2023), then they will keep this eligibility until they finish their current phase of education, regardless of any income changes.  This means that if your child is receiving benefit-related free school meals in a primary school, they will keep this eligibility until the end of year 6. If your child is receiving benefit-related free school meals in a secondary school, they will keep this eligibility until they leave secondary education.
From 1 April 2023, the government is expected to set new free school meal guidance.  In the meantime, we encourage all families to chat to their child’s school about eligibility.

Providing free school meals to families with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

The government has permanently extended free school meal eligibility to children in all households with NRPF, subject to maximum income thresholds.

Eligible groups

These groups include, but may not be limited to children of:

  • Zambrano carers
  • families who have NRPF with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction
  • a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Chen carers
  • families holding a BN(O) passport
  • spousal visa holders
  • work visa holders
  • student visa holders
  • those with no immigration status

Income thresholds
Under the permanent extension of free school meal eligibility to those with NRPF,  the annual household income thresholds for those families able to work are:

  • £31,200 for families within London with 1 child
  • £34,800 for families within London with 2 or more children