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Children in Wales in reception, year one and year two to get free school meals by April 2023 - here's all you need to know

Children in Wales in reception, year one and year two to get free school meals by April 2023 - here's all you need to know

All reception year schoolchildren in Wales will start receiving free meals from September this year, with pupils in year one and year two to get free meals by April 2023, the Welsh Government has announced. It's expected that all 200,000 primary school children in Wales will receive free school meals by 2024. 

The Welsh Government told MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) that the parents of reception year children will be told in September how their children will be able to access the scheme. 

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: "We’re working closely with partners to ensure that the process for accessing free school meals is as simple as possible for parents. Local authorities will engage with parents and provide clear guidance and information on the rollout."

This change brings Wales more closely in-line with England and Scotland. In England, free school meals are provided to children in reception, year one and year two, while in Scotland free school meals are provided to children up to year five.

Read our Free School Meals guide for more information. 

This doesn't impact those already eligible for free school meals in older years

If you're on certain means-tested benefits, such as universal credit, your child may already be eligible to receive free school meals in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. These pupils are not impacted by the rollout to younger children in Wales. 

If your child is in year three or above, they will typically be able to get free school meals if you meet the criteria in the following two steps - to check if your child qualifies for free school meals, enter your postcode at Gov.uk

Step 1. You are claiming one of these benefits:

  • Child tax credit. 
  • The 'guaranteed element' of pension credit.
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance.
  • Income-related employment and support allowance.
  • Income support.
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • Universal credit. 
  • Working tax credit/working tax credit run-on (Northern Ireland and Scotland only).

Step 2. You earn below a certain amount (these thresholds differ depending on where you live and the benefits you claim): 

England
  • If you receive universal credit, you can earn up to £7,400/year (in total earnings). 
  • If you receive child tax credit (but not working tax credit), you can earn up to £16,190/year.
Northern Ireland
  • If you receive universal credit, you can earn up to £14,000/year. 
  • If you receive child tax credit or working tax credit, you can earn up to £16,190/year.
Scotland
  • If you receive universal credit, you can earn up to £625/month. 
  • If you receive child tax credit (but not working tax credit), you can earn up to £16,105/year.
  • If you receive working tax credit AND child tax credit, you can earn up to £7,500/year. 
Wales
  • If you receive universal credit, you can earn up to £7,400/year.
  • If you receive child tax credit (but not working tax credit), you can earn up to £16,190/year.

How to apply for free school meals across the UK if you're on benefits 

For existing free meal schemes to support those on certain benefits, you will need your name, date of birth and home address, details about your qualifying benefit claim – you'll be told what evidence you need to submit – and your child's/children's details and school name(s).

For people in England, there is a free checker, which should link through to your council's free school meals registration page. Here's how to apply in Northern IrelandScotland and Wales.

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