Free school meals
Cheshire East Council (CEC) provides two types of free school meals to children attending a school within the Borough.
Free school meals for infants
Children at school and in reception class, year 1 or year 2 (key stage 1) can have free school meals. This is called Universal infant free school meals (UIFSM).
You don't need to claim for UIFSM, just contact your child’s school.
If you receive one of the qualifying benefits listed under Income related free school meals we suggest you do make a claim even if your child is in key stage 1 as the school can claim additional funding via pupil premium allowance for new equipment and resources.
Income related free school meals (IRFSM)
You can claim free school meals for each child who attends school in Cheshire East if you receive one of these benefits:
- Income Support
- Income based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income related Employment Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit - as long as you have a yearly household income of less than £16,190 (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs) and do not get Working Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit
This is also applicable to nursery-age children if they attend before and after lunch sessions at a local authority nursery school or nursery class.
Claiming for free school meals or pupil premium
Apply for free school meals here or call: 0300 123 5012
CEC use the Government eligibility checker to confirm your entitlement. Successful claims can begin the same day. If your claim is not successful or you need to send more proof CEC will contact you by phone or email, your entitlement will only begin once this information is provided. If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, you can give your permission for your eligibility to be checked using these records.
CEC cannot backdate claims for Free School Meals to cover unpaid dinner money, or to refund any dinner money paid prior to the date of a successful application.
Change of circumstances
You must remember to tell us if you have any changes to your income or household. For example, you must tell us if
- your benefits stop
- you start to get Working Tax Credit
- your child changes school
- your child leaves school
- you change your address
If you do not tell us of any changes in your circumstances, you may have to pay for any taken school meals that your child was not entitled to.
Appealing against the free school meals eligibility criteria
The qualifying criteria for free school meals is set by Central Government, not Cheshire East Council. Any change to the criteria must be raised via your Member of Parliament.