Who's entitled to free school meals in the UK and how do you apply for them?

FREE school dinners are available to thousands of school kids – going against the old saying that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Here's the lowdown on universal free school meals, and how to apply on behalf of YOUR kids.

Who is entitled to free school meals in the UK?

Under the universal free school meal system, every child in reception, year 1 and year 2 in England and Wales is entitled to a free hot lunch.

This is regardless of their household income and has been the case since 2014.

Parents can apply for free meals for older kids if they claim state benefits, while child asylum seekers are also granted free lunches.

Those eligible include people who are paid income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance, pension credit, child tax credit, working tax credit and universal credit.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have slightly different policies.

How do I apply for free school lunches for my kids?

If you qualify for a free school lunch, you must let the local authority know so they can get extra funding from the government.

Simply click here and type in your postcode to be redirected to your local council's website and apply.

Some councils ask you to contact the school directly.

Was Theresa May going to scrap universal free school meals?

One of Theresa May's pre-election pledges, made in the Conservative manifesto, was to scrap universal free school lunches and replace them with a free breakfast.

This would mean that kids in reception, year 1 and year 2 would no longer automatically qualify for free meals.

However, parents who claim state benefits or are seeking asylum would still have been able to apply.

The Prime Minister's policy would have saved £4billion a year.

Mrs May was forced to abandon her plans because the policy was widely unpopular – and would never have got through Parliament after the Tories failed to win a House of Commons majority.

The policy was scrapped, along with a number of other pledges,  in the Queen's Speech, which was delivered on June 21, 2017.



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