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Free School Meals

Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme - ELAS

To try and help people worried about the Cost of Living crisis, we have put the information you might need about advice and support in one place on our website. We have also produced an easy-to-print factsheet which can be downloaded from

As a Sefton resident, you are eligible for free school meals if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit and have a net household income of less than £7400 per annum
  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax  Credit ONLY (not entitled/receiving Working Tax Credit) and have an income of less that £16190.00
  • Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for the four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Support under VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act

If you are on a qualifying benefit and do not already receive free school meals, we urge you to make a formal application as soon as possible. This can benefit your child’s school as they can claim extra funding (Pupil Premium). Currently Sefton are providing vouchers to families during the school holidays if you are eligible for Free School Meals.

Nursery/ Pre- school

If you or your partner are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits and your child attends a Nursery all day at least one day a week, they could be eligible for free school meals.

Post 16 (6th form)

You will be entitled to claim free school meals if your child is 16 or over and attending a school 6th form.

Post 16 (FE College)

You will need to speak to the college directly to see what the policy is regarding claiming free school meals.

Vouchers will continue to be provided during the six weeks holidays if you are already eligible for free school meals. Please contact your school for more information. This includes leavers in year 11.

How to apply

If you are not already in receipt of free school meals. Parents can apply online by filling in the application form.

On the 1st of April 2018, a Universal Credit wage threshold was introduced. This is for people in receipt of Universal Credit. Any new applicants who are working and have a net income of less than £7,400 per annum will be eligible for Free School Meals. If your child was eligible before 1st April 2018 they will stay eligible until March 2023. This is regardless of any change in your circumstances.

This also applies if your child is eligible after 1st April 2018.

After March 2023, these protections will last until the end of child’s phased education. For example, if your child is in year 2, they will receive Free School Meals until they finish Primary School. If you have a child in year 8, they will receive Free School Meals until they finish Secondary School.

Free School Meal protection applies to an individual child, NOT to the whole family.  If you have any younger children, they must meet the criteria for Free School Meals at the time you apply for them.  Please contact us if you have any younger children that you wish to claim Free School Meals for.


If you think you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for Free School Meals. Complete the application form through the 'Do it Online' section above.

If your claim is successful, the school will be notified that your child is eligible for Free School Meals. The free school meals information will be treated with the strictest confidence.

If you are unable to apply online, please contact the School Admissions and Pupil Support team.

Email: or telephone 0151 934 3263.

You can also complete and return the Free School Meals Application Form. The application form is in the downloads section below.

Please let us know if you have moved address or your child moves school. As from 1 April 2018, if your financial circumstances change and your child is in receipt of Free School Meals, they will remain eligible until March 2023.

From March 2022 your child will remain eligible until the end of their phased education. Please refer to the examples in Section 1. 


Telephone: 0151 934 3263

Pupil premium is extra funding and is provided by the government. This funding is to support your child’s education. If you or your partner are in one of the qualifying benefits, this can be claimed. Your child’s school will then receive up to £1300 per child in primary school and up to £935 per child in secondary school.

Please see individual school website for what this funding is used for.

For pupils who attend reception, year 1 or year 2. They are eligible to receive Free School Meals regardless of their parent’s income.  You do not need to apply for Free School Meals and your school will write to you about this.

If you are on Universal Free School Meals, you will not be entitled to vouchers during the holiday periods.

Free School Meals Form 2 (pdf 734KB)

Last Updated on Monday, February 12, 2024

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