Free School Meals FAQ's

Page updated on: 19/07/2022

Payments for the summer holidays will be made in one lump sum of £128.70 per pupil. The payment will be in bank accounts on Tuesday, July 19 for most families, with any outstanding queries being cleared as soon as possible. This is the final free school meal holiday payment as instructed by Welsh Government. 

No, you only need to apply online once but you must keep us updated of any changes by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

When you apply online we are able to check your entitlement using the Eligibility Checking Service provided by the Department of Education.  You will be advised whether or not your claim is successful.  You will only be asked to provide documentary evidence if you eligibility cannot be confirmed.

You need to apply to Carmarthenshire County Council for your child’s /children’s free school meals.

Unfortunately we are unable to backdate entitlement to free school meals to cover unpaid school dinner money, or to refund dinner money paid prior to the date of a successful application.

No re-imbursement is given for school meals money unless there are “exceptional circumstances” – you will need to email / or send a letter to the free school meals office explaining the “exceptional circumstances”.

Local authorities do no set the qualifying criteria for free school meals and we are unable to waive them.  Any change to the criteria is a matter for central, not local government, so your Member of Parliament is the appropriate person to contact about this issue.

For every child that is entitled to free school meals the school receives extra funding from the Welsh Government to enhance provision and improve progress and outcomes for children.  This is called the Pupil Premium Grant.  Your child can still bring a packed lunch if they prefer but by applying you ensure their school receives this grant.

We will notify the schools therefore you do no need to do anything.  Secondary Schools have a cashless catering system so the money will be credited to your child/children’s account each morning, any remaining monies are cleared at the end of the day.

Contact the school office or contact the free school meals office to inform the school on your behalf by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

Unfortunately there is no free school meals eligibility if either partner is entitled to Working Tax Credit.

Where a parent/carer is entitled to Working Tax Credit during a 4-week “run on” period immediately after their employment ends or they qualify for Working Tax Credit, then they are eligible to claim free school meals for that 4-week period.

Unfortunately as we are unable to confirm eligibility using the Eligibility Checking Service you will need to submit a hard copy of your Tax Credit Decision Notice.

Once the 4-week temporary entitlement period has expired we will require proof that one of the other qualifying benefits listed on the webpage has been awarded.

As the child’s / children’s carer you are eligible to claim free school meals for them if you are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits.  Either parent is also eligible to claim for free school meals for the child/children who are living with you providing they claim a qualifying benefit.

If it is permanent and you will be getting Child Benefit etc., you can apply in your own right.  If it is temporary, the claim can stay as it is but it must be noted by the free school meals office so you will need to contact us by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

We cancel free school meals on the following Friday from when work started, as Tax Credits will be backdated to the day you started work.

Students are in most cases eligible as they are receiving Child Tax Credit Only, but you will need to apply as normal.

If they’re over 16, they are not eligible and will need to apply for an “Educational Maintenance Allowance” instead.  If they’re under 16, you need to contact the free school meals office for further details by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

Foster Carers are unable to claim for free school meals if they are in receipt of the full fostering Allowance.

Special Guardianship Orders are eligible but you need to apply in your own right. If you receive a Kinship payment you are not eligible.

A parent may not yet have benefits in their name, or proof etc. due to an emergency situation.  Women’s Aid will need to confirm the circumstances in writing by email and then the free school meal provision can be granted provisionally until eligibility can be confirmed.  However you will still need to apply.

Applications are normally processed within 5 working days.  If an email address was supplied, a response would have been emailed (which may have gone in your “spam” folder), you will need to check with the free school meals office for the reason why you have not heard anything by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

We can e-mail a copy of your free school meals confirmation letter to you as proof by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

We can make a note of the transfer but you could advise us during the summer school holidays to ensure our records are updated correctly by calling us on 01267 246521 or e-mail FreeSchoolMeals@carmarthenshire.gov.uk.

The upper annual income threshold of £16,190 applies to families who receive Child Tax Credit but have no entitlement to Working Tax Credit.

From September all full-time Nursery and Reception children will be offered a free school meal in Carmarthenshire.

Yes, we ask that all pupils eligible for a UPFSM from September 2022 (full-time Nursery and Reception) apply by completing the online form.

The UPFSM application form provides space for you to notify us of any special dietary requirements your child may have. This information will be shared with the relevant catering staff.

The pace at which Local Authorities across Wales can roll out UPFSM will be different for many reasons. For this reason, Welsh Government expressed that they did not wish to limit the speed at which Local Authorities were able to deliver the offer and therefor provided flexibility. This means that those authorities that can start delivering to learners in Years 1 and 2 (in addition to Reception) can do so. In Carmarthenshire, we are working very hard to upgrade our kitchens (which can only be undertaken during school holiday periods) with the appropriate equipment that is needed in order that we can cater for the additional number of meals. We will provide further updates as to when we can implement UPFSM to other year groups as soon as the detail becomes clear.

Welsh Government announced that UPFSM will be rolled out to all pupils in primary schools, from reception to year 6. However, because Carmarthenshire offer full time Nursery provision, UPFSM will be available to full time Nursery pupils only. This is in accordance with current eligibility criteria set by Welsh Government whereby part time pupils do not qualify for free school meals.

We are working hard to determine the earliest we will be able to roll out the offer to years 1, 2 and above. More information will be communicated when the detail becomes clear.

You could be eligible for free school meals (FSM) if you receive one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit and your annual income is no more than £16,190
  • Universal Credit and your household's annual net income is no more than £7,400
  • Support under part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you are in receipt of Working Tax Credit in addition to any of these benefits you will not be eligible, even if the household income is below £16,190.

If you are in receipt of benefits the easiest way to check if your child is entitled to FSM is to apply, the local authority can then check your eligibility on the Welsh Government Checking System.

You can apply for FSM by completing the online form.

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