Coronavirus: New guidance

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Coronavirus: New guidance
Published: Tuesday, 07th July 2020

OLDHAM Council is urging families to check whether they are eligible for free school meals for the next academic year in September.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has left many families with different financial situations than before. The worry is that more children will be left facing hunger and malnutrition because parents and guardians are struggling financially and aren’t aware of what they are eligible to claim.

And following Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign – free school meal vouchers are available over the summer school holidays but parents/guardians are asked to contact their local school by Friday 10th July.

Oldham Council has been carrying out some work to lessen the stigma attached to free school meals and want people to realise that feeding their children is the most important factor to ensure their health and wellbeing, as well as their educational and recreational needs, are being met. Key eligibility criteria are:

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. (Parents/carers should inform their school if they do not wish to receive this offer, otherwise their child will automatically be opted in to the free school meal).

Means-tested free school meals - Most parents/guardians can claim free school meals if their child attends a local authority-maintained school and they receive one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • 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)

Councillor Shaid Mushtaq, Oldham Cabinet member for Education, says: “The impact of Coronavirus has not just been on people’s health but also their job position and finances and we are concerned there will be more children going hungry.

“We know there is often a stigma attached to free school meals and we have been working hard on this. We want people to realise it is vitally important to ensure their children are fed to ensure their health and wellbeing, as well as their educational and recreational needs, do not suffer.”

People do not need to make a separate claim for free school meals if they are already in receipt or have applied for Housing Benefit or help with their Council Tax.  The Council will use the information and evidence they have already provided to confirm their entitlement to free school meals. People will need to apply if they are getting any of the other benefits listed.

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

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

For more information and a copy of the application form go to the Oldham Council website:

For any queries about free school meals you can contact the Council on 0161-770-6688 or email

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