Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Our Services A - Z :

You are here: Home Page > Education and Learning > Education Grants > Free School Meals

Free School Meals

The Education Welfare Service administers Free School Meals eligibility in the Bedford Borough area. To qualify  the applicant must:

  1. Attend a School in Bedford Borough, although the child can live outside the local authority area.
  2. Be in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits:
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • 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 Credit
  • 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 item.

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 01234 228948)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  If I’m entitled to claim Free School Meals what does this mean?

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 his/her school.

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 School Meals?

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 confirmed.

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 happen?

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.

Change of Circumstances Form

Don't Miss

Education and Learning

Raising the level of academic achievement is a top priority for the council. We will ensure the effective delivery of our services so we can improve the life chances for children and young people. Check out this section to find out about Learning centres, schools, special education needs and more.

Did you know

Just registering your child for free school meals means that the school will get extra money?

Registering your child for free school meals will also attract Pupil Premium funding for their school.  The Government is giving money to schools to help children from lower income families do their very best.  This funding is called ‘Pupil Premium’.  While it is recommended your child eat the meal, this is optional – you should register regardless of whether they want a meal.


Stay Connected
Sign up for email alerts!