Universal free school meals

All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England are eligible for free school meals.

Means-tested free school meals


You can get free school meals if your child attends a local authority maintained school (not private) and you receive one of the following: 

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA)
  • An income-related employment and support allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income (as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) that does not exceed the current year’s level
  • the Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit during the four-week period immediately after your employment finished, or after you start to work less than 16 hours per week.
  • Universal Credit, provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400 (£616.67 per month) )


  • You, as the parent or guardian, must Receive Child Benefit for the child you are responsible for.
  • Children who receive IS or IBJSA in their own right are also entitled to receive free school meals.
  • Children who receive “education suitable for children who have not attained compulsory school age” will still need to satisfy the additional requirement of “receiving education both before and after the lunch period”, before being eligible to receive free school meals. 

There are also cases where the parent or guardian whose children may be eligible for free school meals is not on Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction, i.e. where they are not the householder.  This is generally the case where the pupils’ parent or guardian lives in another household.


You don't need to apply if you are already in receipt or have applied for Housing Benefit or help with your Council Tax. 

We will use the information and evidence you have already provided to confirm your entitlement to free school meals.

Free school meals application form

If you live outside the borough (except Manchester) and your child goes to an Oldham school you will need to apply through your local council in the area where you live.

If you are resident in Manchester but your child attends an Oldham school, please complete the Free School Meals application form.

You will also need to apply if you are getting any of the other benefits listed. 

You do not need to re-apply for free school meals every year unless your circumstances change.

Change in circumstance

If your or your child’s circumstances change free school meals may be withdrawn, the most common reasons include:

  • The parent or guardian ceases to receive a qualifying benefit
  • The child leaves school
  • The family move out of the borough
  • The child goes onto packed lunches (long term)
  • The child is absent from school for a long period of time

All changes of circumstance must be reported by the benefit claimant (schools can also report changes of circumstance).


If you have any queries about free school meals you can contact the council via email: