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All London primary age children to get free school meals again from this September – here's what you need to know

Every primary age child in London will get free school meals again from this September, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has confirmed. Here's what you need to know.

Primary age children in all 32 London boroughs and the City of London will continue to receive free school meals for another academic year. The support was originally supposed to be a one-off in 2023/24, however, the scheme has been extended to support families during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Around 287,000 children are currently benefitting from the scheme, according to the Mayor's office, and it predicts that by continuing to offer free school meals in 2024/2025, families will save up to £1,000 per child across the two academic years.

It's worth noting that the London boroughs of Islington, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster already offered universal free school meals at primary level.

Live in London? Free school meals will be dished out automatically – you don't need to apply

Free school meals will be administered by schools automatically, and parents DON'T need to do anything to benefit.

However, if you're on a low income and getting certain benefits, such as income-based jobseeker's allowance, Income Support or Universal Credit, it's still worth applying for the main benefits-linked free school meals scheme in England (see more on this below). That's because your child's school will then get additional funding from the Government. 

Don't live in London? Check if your child's eligible for free school meals

For full details on free school meal eligibility outside of London, you can see our Free school meals guide.

But in brief – the youngest school children in England already get free school meals automatically from reception to year two (roughly aged 4 to 7), regardless of their family's income. 

If your child is above year two in England, they may still be eligible to receive free school meals if you claim certain benefits. Eligible benefits include:

  • 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).
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance.
  • Income related employment and support allowance.
  • Income Support.
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • The 'guaranteed element' of Pension Credit.
  • Universal Credit.
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – this is paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

There's additional criteria depending on which benefits you get – you can check if you're eligible on Gov.uk. If you qualify, you'll need to apply via your local authority.

If you're on a low income and don't currently claim benefits, check if you can get access to vital support by using our 10-minute benefits checker.

In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, free school meals work slightly differently – see our Free school meals guide to find out more.

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