Proposed changes to the Free School Meals eligibility from April 2011-2012
The purpose of this communication is to make clear to schools, parents/carers that there is no change in the annual income threshold for free school meal (FSM) eligibility. The Department for Education has confirmed that the annual household income threshold for FSM eligibility for applicants in receipt of Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit will be £16,190 from April 2011, remaining the same as in the 2010-11 fiscal years.
There have been no other changes to FSM eligibility criteria
From April 2011 the FSM entitlement threshold will no longer be aligned with HMRC’s changes to the income threshold for Child Tax Credit (£15,860. This decision is now subject to amendments to secondary legislation which should come into force on 6 April (when changes to HMRC’s Child Tax Credit income threshold take effect).
Leeds Revenue and Benefit Service state that our children are entitled to Free School Meals if you receive:
Income Support; or
Job Seeker's Allowance (Income based); or
State Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit); or
Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related); or
Child Tax Credit, as long as you do not receive Working Tax Credit and you have an annual taxable income as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs which does not exceed £16,190.00; and
You can also get Free School Meals if you are entitled to a Working Tax Credit Run On for four weeks after stopping work or reducing working hours to under 16 hours per week.
What are the income limits for getting tax credits?
The total annual income limits that generally apply before your tax credits are reduced or stopped altogether are as follows:
if you have children it is £58,000 - this will go down to £41,000 from 6 April 2011;
if you're single without children it is £13,000; and
if you’re in a couple without children it is £18,000.
Can a parent/carer with an income above £15,860 claim Child Tax Credit?
Currently parents/carers with a total income of up to £58,000 can claim Child Tax Credit. This will go down to £41,000 from 6 April 2011.
To find out if the family qualifies they should:
For further details on Child Tax Credit please go to:
Addendum to the Leeds Free school meal Toolkit
The Leeds free school meal toolkit links tools 3, 5 and 6 to the previous FSM eligibility criteria linked to Child Tax Credit mentioned in these tools. Schools, and partners working with families utilising the FSM toolkit can do so with confidence, only mindful of the changes described above.The Leeds health and well-being team provide training to schools on how to increase FSM uptake. For more information contact Siobhan.OMahony@leeds.gov.uk the Leeds healthy eating adviser.
Schools and communities practitioners are reminded that by utilising the tools and or the procedures set out in the Leeds FSM toolkit will help increase FSM uptake and identify families that generate pupil premiums to support the school.
It is important that all children are encouraged to take their school meal, especially those on free school meals.
The Education (Free School Lunches) (Working Tax Credit) (England) Order 2009 came into force on 1st May 2009. The effect of this legislation is that it allows local authorities and schools to give free school meals for a period of up to 4 weeks to children whose parents or carers have been receiving Working Tax Credit (WTX) but become unemployed or reduce their hours to less than 16 hours a week. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customers (HMRC) will now give these non-working people WTX for a further 4 weeks after they become unemployed; this award is known as "WTX Run- On" (WTX-RO). Parents are entitled to receive FSMs for this run-on period.
Unsure if your child is entitled to receive a free school meal?
For more information, please click on the link: Free school meals and school clothing allowance
Or call Leeds 0113 2224404
Making free school meals easy and comfortable to claim
Findings from the Free School Meal research show that parents are concerned about their child(ren) taking a free school meal. We at Children's Services are working hard to ensure stigma does not exist and that everything is done in our schools to prevent stigma being developed in the first place, and how schools can make claiming free school meals comfortable.
We want both parents and children to feel comfortable taking the free school meals they are entitled to. However, if you are concerned about your child taking a free school meal, please have a look at the FSM toolkit below to read about the work schools and partners are doing or alternatively you could contact your school directly and they will be able to advise and reassure you.
What is being done to improve school meals?
Since Jamie Oliver’s review of school meals in 2005 school meals have continually been improving. For the last few years Children's Services has paid particular attention to school meals – looking at the quality and healthiness of the food, the service and the dinner time experience as a whole.
In September 2006 the government introduced mandatory school meals standards to be phased into all schools by 2009. This means that as of September 2009, all primary and secondary schools in Leeds will have to monitor the nutritional content of the food served at dinner time - just like food sold in the supermarket is monitored. The standard of school meals has been improved and will continue to be improved with these new standards. The aim of the standards is to improve the quality of food on offer at schools, addressing several factors, including the nutritional value of the food and value for money, in order to provide a healthier, more affordable menu.
Our research has investigated the opinions of hundreds of pupils and parents to help make sure we get our school meals right for today and in the future. This research informs future improvements to school food. Parents and carers are encouraged to ask for more information from your school.
For further information on the new national school food and drink policy have a look at the school food trust website by clicking the logo below.
Back to top
How can parents be sure their child is receiving food that is culturally appropriate?
We have developed a school Food Cultural Policy that aims to provide reassurance to parents that food is culturally appropriate. It responds to the growing diversity of food being served throughout our schools and aims to meet the needs of families and local communities, share good practice and promote awareness in fostering cultural understanding.
The content is informed by our Leeds catering providers in consultation with representatives of community faith through the Leeds Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE). The document is aimed at a range of key partners including school leadership team, catering providers, local authority planners and those involved in procurement of school food provision. The policy sets out clear recommendations and guidance to inform current practice and future school food catering contracts and inform your school food policy.
It is important that all children are encouraged to take their school meal especially those on free school meals. The policy aims to develop confidence amongst community leaders, families and children. By specifically focusing on religious requirements such as Halal, vegetarian and kosher to offer reassurances for the appropriateness school meal provision. This will also result in the promotion of health and wellbeing and a reduction in health inequalities because more children and young people will be eating school meals and taking up their free school meal entitlement.
The policy provides information on good practice conducted in our schools including training, storage, preparation and service to help children make informed choices. If you have any concerns – you should contact your schools.
Call to action - Parents and carers are encouraged to ask their school about provision of cultural and religious appropriate food and request evidence from the catering provider of appropriate food serving / preparation practice and buying e.g. request to see Halal certificate provided by the schools catering provider.
Pupils developing a film to be shown in schools and doctors surgeries to promote free school meals
Students have developed a range of films to promote the uptake of free school meals. For more information go to free school meals page
Call to action – encourage your school to use the films in PSHCE and the free school meals toolkit survey to inform local actions.
Parents – for further information on school meals click on the Leeds City Council link
Then type ‘school meals’ in the search bar in the top right corner of the page.
If you have any questions or enquiries Leeds City Council contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 0113 222 4444
Alternatively click on the link below for all details of contacts within Leeds City Council:
Little book of goodness
The Little Book of Goodness has been created to help parents make the right choice about food in schools for their child.
It contains information about the improvements that have been made to the school dining services over recent years, the Government Standards and the typical foods that are being served, including fruit and vegetables.