Every child in reception, year 1 or year 2 at school is automatically offered free school meals, without parents or carers having to apply.
If your child attends a state-funded school and you receive any of the benefits listed below, you can apply for them to get free school meals up to year 11. You don't have to apply up to year 2 but, if you do, you child's school will receive extra government funding.
Who is eligible
Your child may be eligible for free school meals if you receive either:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- 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
- Universal Credit – provided your total net earnings are no more than £616.67 each month
- the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Your child must be attending a state-funded school in the Thurrock area. If your child attends a school outside of Thurrock, you must apply to the council for the area in which they attend school.
You may also be able to claim free school meals for your child if you have 'no recourse to public funds' – for example, if you cannot claim benefits.
When you must apply
You must make a new application for your child to start receiving free school meals, even if their siblings already receive free school meals.
When you have to register
If you've moved to Thurrock and had been assessed as eligible for free school meals in the area you moved from, you only have to register with us – you don't have to make a new application.
When you don't have to apply
You don't have to make a new application at the start of each school year – even if your child's school says you should. The government will allow your entitlement to continue, either until it finishes introducing Universal Credit (expected in 2023), or until your child leaves school when they complete year 11 or a sixth form college connected to the school, whichever is sooner.
You also don't have to make a new application if your child:
- changes their school in-year within Thurrock
- moves from primary to secondary school within Thurrock
How to apply or register
To make a new application, you must use the online form below. When applying, select 'create an account' if you don't already have a Thurrock Council account for free school meals, free 2 year-old childcare or school admissions.
If your child has been assessed as eligible for free school meals in an area outside Thurrock, you can use the registration form below. The child must:
- have been assessed as eligible at the age of 3 years-old or older
- now be in full-time education within Thurrock
- still be eligible for free school meals
When we receive your details
We process details within 5 working days. If we ask you to provide evidence, you must send it to us within 2 weeks using the email address below.
After your details have been processed, we will send you an email telling you the outcome. If your child is eligible, we will:
- tell your child's school that your child is entitled to free school meals
- let you know that this entitlement has been confirmed
Entitlements are not backdated.
Do not contact us to ask how your application is progressing as we won't be able to tell you.
You should only contact us directly by email if you need to send us supporting evidence or if you are having technical difficulties with our online system.