Update on national voucher scheme from the Department of Education
The free school meal voucher system has been upgraded over the bank holiday weekend. We are working closely with our supplier Edenred to resolve any outstanding issues quickly. We thank schools for their patience while the system is expanded to meet the high demand.
We hope that you are all keeping safe and well during this unsettling time.
If you are eligible for free school meal vouchers, your email has been passed on to the Department of Education so that you can receive them. The school has a list of those eligible, which is made up of names and emails of those who have applied and have met the criteria before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Once the criteria is met, your details are passed to ‘Edenred’ which is a company the Department of Education are using to email families luncheon vouchers to the value of £15 per pupil per week.
If you have already done this and are yet to receive your vouchers, please keep checking back in your email inbox and junk folder as the system is overloaded. We have also contacted Edenred to let them know that some families are yet to receive the vouchers.
We apologise for this inconvenience and we will keep working on your behalf to ensure that the vouchers get to you.
If you have any concerns or you think you may be eligible to apply, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
Please see below for a detailed look at the eligibility criteria.
A child may be eligible for free school meals (FSM) if their parents are in receipt of any of the following benefits:
Children may also get FSM if they receive any of these benefits directly, instead of through a parent.
This is explained on the GOV.UK website.
Contribution-based JSA or ESA are not eligibility criteria for FSM in their own right.
However, claiming contribution-based benefits doesn't prevent someone being eligible for FSM on the basis of receiving one of the other benefits listed above.
If someone is in receipt of even 1p of income-based JSA or include-related ESA, they're eligible for FSM. That mean, for example, someone receiving equal amounts of income-based and contribution-based JSA or ESA is still eligible for FSM.
Transitional protections during Universal Credit rollout
Following the update to the eligibility criteria on 1 April 2018, the government has implemented transitional protections for those pupils who might otherwise have lost FSM due to the changes. These are awarded as follows:
"Immediately prior" means that the school needs to have evidence that the pupil was eligible for FSM on 31 March 2018. The DfE clarified this for us.
Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, existing pupils who no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point will continue to receive FSM until the end of their current phase of education, i.e. primary or secondary.
The DfE currently expects the Universal Credit rollout to be completed in March 2022.
No further eligibility checks will be needed during the rollout of Universal Credit, due to these protection arrangements. You should continue to record pupils claiming FSM (including those being transitionally protected) as eligible for FSM on your termly census.
New applicants for FSM on or after 1 April 2018, who are in receipt of Universal Credit and have earnings above the earned income threshold, will not be eligible for FSM.
This is explained in guidance on FSM from the DfE (pages 10 to 11).
FSM supplementary grant
The number of pupils eligible for FSM is projected to increase following the DfE’s introduction of the income-based threshold for FSM eligibility.
Find out about the supplementary grant which the DfE has introduced to help schools manage this increase in FSM numbers in the short term.