Free School Meals
The Education Welfare Service administers Free School Meals
eligibility in the Bedford Borough area. To qualify the
- Attend a School in Bedford Borough,
although the child can live outside the local authority
- Be in receipt of one of the following
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support
- Income-based Job Seekers
- Child Tax Credit, provided neither
you, nor your partner, are entitled to Working Tax
Credit, and the joint annual income is below £16,190
(To clarify, if you or your partner are in receipt of working tax
credit, you will not qualify for free school meals no matter how
low your income.)
- The Guaranteed element of State Pension
- asylum seekers support under part VI of
the Immigration Act 1999
- Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment
someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop
qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
- Universal Credit
Children who receive any of the qualifying benefits listed above
in their own right, are also eligible to receive free school
meals. All pupils who do not qualify for free school lunches
must be charged the same amount for the same quantity of the same
If there are any questions not covered in the FAQs below, you
can contact us on 01234 228948.
Please click here to complete an online application for Free
Schools Meals or complete a paper application
form (which can be downloaded below or requested via telephone
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. If I’m entitled to claim Free School Meals what does
A. It means that you are able to claim a free school meal
for your child, from the standard menu, at the canteen/cafeteria at
Q. Who completes the application – me or my partner?
A. Applications should be completed by the person
receiving the qualifying benefit for your household.
Q. How do I get an application form?
A. A paper
application form can be downloaded by clicking here or
alternatively, you can obtain one from a Bedford Borough school or
by ringing 01234 228948.
Q. How will you know whether I’m entitled to claim Free
A. Data provided by the Department for Education and
collected from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home
Office and HM Revenue and Customs will be accessed to do this.
Q. If my claim for Free School Meals is successful how
will I know?
A. We will try and let you know within 5 working days and
inform your child’s school. (As we try to contact them via
telephone, your child’s school will probably know first so it is
worth checking whether they have heard from us.)
Q. When can I apply for Free School Meals?
A. You can apply at any time once you are in receipt of
the qualifying benefit. Claims for Free School Meals, however,
cannot be backdated so you will still have to pay for any meals or
send in a packed lunch, until your entitlement has been
Q. What if I change address?
A. Inform the Free School Meals section as soon as
possible by completing a Change of Circumstances Form (the form is
available for download at the bottom of this page). Do not
assume the school will tell us. Your child’s meals may stop
if we cannot contact you.
Q. What if my financial circumstances change?
A. If your financial circumstances change you must
notify us straight away as it may mean that you are no longer
entitled to claim Free School Meals. Please complete a change
of circumstances form (the form is available for download at the
bottom of this page) or telephone us on 01234 228948.
Q. If I don’t let you know that my financial circumstances
have changed and I continue to claim Free School Meals, what will
A. If you knowingly claim Free School Meals to which you
are not entitled you could be prosecuted for fraud.
Q. Do I have to reapply if my child changes school?
A. No, but it would be helpful to inform us if the
change occurs during the school year by completing a Change of
Circumstances Form (the form is available for download at the
bottom of this page).
Q. What should I do when my child starts school and I
already have another child receiving free school meals?
A. Complete a Change of Circumstances Form (the form
is available for download at the bottom of this page) so the new
child can be added.
Q. Who do I apply to if I live in one LA but my child
attends school in another?
A. Apply to the LA responsible for the school your
child attends, not where you live.
Q. How often do I need to apply?
A. You will only need to make one initial
application. We will check on a regular basis that you still
meet the qualifying criteria. If we find that you no
longer qualify for free school meals we will write to you.
Remember to inform us of any
changes by completing a Change of Circumstances Form, which can be
downloaded by clicking on the following link.