Free School Meals and Universal Infant Free School Meals

Household Support - Spring Term 2024

Food support for families in receipt of benefits-related free school meals will continue over the Spring term 2024.

A payment amount of £60 per child will be provided in the form of supermarket vouchers, as part of the Household Support Fund initiative. This term we will just be sending one voucher to cover the February half term and Easter Holidays rather than the usual two vouchers. We will therefore not be sending out a voucher before February half term but issuing a larger £60 voucher in early March to cover both holiday periods.

If you have already registered and are entitled to benefits related free school meals in Solihull, you will automatically receive your voucher and therefore do not need to contact the council.

Vouchers are being provided where families have children aged 3 - 17 in a Solihull publicly funded school (maintained school, Academy, or Free school) and all families currently receiving benefits-related free school meals will be contacted with full redemption details, via email or post.

For further information

Our Here2Help provide details of additional food provision and essential utilities to support families with children, other vulnerable households and individuals. 

  • Our HAF Activities page provides information on activities which are free to children on benefits-related free school meals during the Christmas, Easter and Summer school holidays. You can keep up to date with future HAF activities by signing up to our HAF Stay Connected alerts.

If you have any further queries email

If you receive benefits or have a low income, your child may be eligible for Free School Meals.

Apply for Free School Meals

If your child attends the following school, please contact the school directly to submit a Free School Meals application:

Castlewood School

The Heights Academy

Free School Meals (FSM)

You may be eligible for Free School Meals if you receive a qualifying benefit.

This could be:

  • Universal Credit - your household earned annual income must be less than £7,400 after tax and not including any benefits
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

Once the roll out of Universal Credit is completed in March 2025 anyone who no longer meets the the eligibility criteria , either because their earnings are above the limit or if they no longer receive Universal Credit, will continue to receive Free School Meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).

The Universal Credit rollout is currently expected to complete in March 2025.

What if I don’t receive one of the above benefits?

The Department for Education have now permanently extended free school meal eligibility to children in all households with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), subject to maximum income thresholds.

These households include:

  • children of Zambrano carers
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction
  • a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Chen carers
  • families holding a BN(O) passport
  • spousal visa holders
  • work visa holders
  • student visa holders
  • those with no immigration status

The maximum income threshold differs based on your location and the number of children that your family has.

Income thresholds

Under the permanent extension of free school meal eligibility to all NRPF groups, the annual household income thresholds for those families able to work are:

  • £22,700 for families outside of London with 1 child
  • £26,300 for families outside of London with 2 or more children

Please note your capital savings threshold cannot exceed £16,000. We will ask for evidence of your capital by requesting bank statement(s).

If you are in one of the above groups you will need to apply for Free School Meals by calling us on 0121 704 6611 to complete a self-declaration form.

Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM)

All infant pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 are eligible for Universal Infants Free School Meals.

If you receive benefits and your child gets Universal Infant Free School Meals you should still apply online for Free School Meals. This will allow your child’s school to receive extra funding that could support your child.

You can apply for Universal Infant Free School Meals as soon as your child's place at school is confirmed.

Contact us

Please note we are only able to help you with your enquiry if your child attends a Solihull School. If your child attends a School outside of Solihull you will need to contact the relevant local authority or speak to your child’s School.

If you need help or advice with your application please contact our Family Information Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to firstly show which criteria you qualify under. These are listed below:

Article 8 of the ECHR

Families will be able to provide a letter from the Home Office granting them leave to remain in the UK or a biometric residence card.

Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Families will be able to provide a letter from the Home Office or local authority confirming Section 4 support or an ASPEN card.

BN(O) passport holders

Families will be able to show either a BN(O) passport or visa.

Spouse, work or student visa holders

Families will be able to show their visa.

Zambrano or Chen carers

In many (but not all) cases, the family will be able to show a derivative residence card. If they do not hold this, they must be able to show that:

  • the carer or parent is not a British citizen
  • the child is a British citizen
  • the carer is a direct relative or legal guardian of the child, and they have the primary responsibility for the child
  • there are no other members of the carers’ family in the UK or the EEA who could look after the child

In all cases you will need to contact the Free school meals helpline 0121 704 6611 to complete a self-declaration form and be able to provide one of the following to prove your income:

  • payslip
  • P60
  • bank statement
  • letter from their bank
  • letter from their employer
  • letter from the local authority confirming support if applicable

As your child is an infant pupil they will still qualify for Universal Infant Free School Meals because you have registered.

Your completed online registration will assist the school in identifying extra funding via Pupil Premium which will benefit the school. We will also re-check your details periodically in case your claim for free meals becomes successful at a later date.

As your child attends a school in Solihull, you should apply to the Family Information Service for Free School Meals even though you do not reside within the Solihull Borough.

If your child is receiving education either side of the lunch period you may be able to claim Free School Meals when your child attends for a full day (this does not apply to Wraparound Nursery). ). You must apply for Free School Meals and meet the Free School Meals criteria.

It must be a school nursery as free meals are not available at private nurseries. Universal Infant Free Meals do not begin until your child reaches Infant School (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2).

Menus and information about Solihull’s freshly prepared meals are available on our school meals page. Information will also be available at your child’s school.

When you make a claim online you will not be asked for proof of benefits. Your entitlement will be checked against our Eligibility Checking Service which is provided by the Department for Education. If for any reason you are receiving a qualifying benefit but this cannot be confirmed we may in a few cases have to ask for current paper proof of entitlement.

As long as your net earned income is no more than £7400 as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods then you will be eligible.

If you are currently eligible for a Free School Meal due to the roll out of Universal Credit your child’s eligibility will be protected until March 2025 and if they are then still in education they will be protected until the end of their school phase i.e. primary or secondary.

As your two older children are already receiving a free school meal, due to the roll out of Universal Credit their eligibility will be protected until March 2025 and if they are then still in education they will be protected until the end of their school phase i.e. primary or secondary.

Your youngest child will not be eligible if your circumstances have changed as they are a new claim so therefore not already protected. If your circumstances change again and you reapply for your youngest child, that child will then be eligible and will then be protected the same as your older children.

Yes if your children are moving to a Solihull school you will need to make a new application for a Free School Meal via the parent portal.

If your circumstances have changed and you therefore receive a refused response to your application you will need to notify the Family Information Service that your children were previously protected out of borough. We can then verify this with your new school and ensure your children receive a Free School Meal and that their eligibility then becomes protected again.

If there is any Working Tax being received in your home, regardless of income unfortunately you are not entitled to claim Free School Meals.

If you are receiving Working Tax Credit during a 4 week `run-on’ period after your employment has ceased, you can claim Free School Meals. During the 4 week `run-on’ period it is anticipated that you will either rapidly reclaim another qualifying benefit or find new employment.

Due to the roll out of Universal Credit, when the four week `run-on’ finishes your Free School Meals will now continue until at least March 2025 as your entitlement will be protected even if your circumstances change.

When your application has been processed you will be sent an email to advise you of the outcome. The school will also be advised of the result.

If you do not receive an email within 5 working days, please contact the Family Information Service (Please note when we are experiencing high volumes of applications and especially in September, all claims will be dealt with in the order they are received. It is advisable to claim early to avoid a delay. You are able to claim during school holiday periods).

Please remember to check your junk / spam email folder just in case the email has been redirected incorrectly.

Yes, the Family Information Service will be happy to help you with any queries you may have regarding your claim.

No, children are currently protected for Free School Meals until March 2025 so if your child is already in receipt of Free School Meals you don’t need to reapply. When your child moves to a new School meals will automatically continue as the new School will be notified of Free School Meal eligibility by the previous School on a Child Transfer Form (CTF).

When you have completed your application you will receive an email notifying you that your application has been received and that the Free School Meals team will respond within 5 working days. If you haven’t received the email please log back into the Parent Portal and ensure you have clicked the wording Free School Meals / Universal Infant Meals Application (green box).

Catering for pupils in 70 primary schools across Solihull and surrounding areas, Solihull Catering Services has a wealth of experience providing nutritious, wholesome school lunches.

The website provides all the information parents and schools need all in one place, including downloadable menus, allergy information, current news, local suppliers, reviews and FAQs.