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Parents urged to apply for free school meals

Parents can apply for the free clothing grants. Photo: PA

Parents of children who are starting school this September can apply for free school meals - and can also benefit from grants to pay for school uniforms.

Cumbria County Council is reminding parents to apply for the free school meals online, even though Reception and Year 1 and 2 pupils have been automatically entitled to free meals since last year.

If eligible parents do not apply, they could miss out on a free school clothing grant worth £25 (£35 for secondary school pupils), and the school could miss out on a £1,300 pupil premium payment from the government.

Applying online takes around five minutes, after which the council will send eligible parents a voucher which can be exchanged for cash at the Post Office.

The meals and clothing vouchers are available to parents who receive one of the following benefits:

  • 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 as of April 2012 does not exceed £16,190. Note: From 1st May 2009 where you are entitled to Working Tax Credit during the four-week period immediately after your employment ceases, or after you start to work less than 16 hours per week, your children are entitled to Free School Meals, this may be extended.
  • The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit

It’s so important that eligible parents continue to apply for free school meals even though all infants now automatically get one. If they don’t apply, not only are they missing out on help with the cost of their child’s uniform, but their child’s school will also miss out on thousands of pounds.

It’s because we know many families are struggling that we continue to fund free school clothing grants despite the cuts to our budget – it’s about our commitment to helping children and families who really need it. It would be such a shame if they missed out when the application is so quick and straightforward.”

– Cllr Clare Feeney-Johnson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning