Free school meals

Free school meals are provided for all pupils in Primary 1, 2 and 3 as well as those families on qualifying benefits.

Free School Meals/Clothing Grants


Free School Meals can lead to a large saving each year, parents of primary school children can potentially save £361 and parents of secondary pupils can potentially save £370.  You will also be helping your child's school if you qualify for Free School Meals. Some Scottish Government funding provided directly to schools is linked to the numbers of pupils who are registered as entitled to free school meals.

Free school meals are provided for all pupils in Primary 1, 2 and 3 as well as those families on qualifying benefits.


The process for parents to apply for Free School Meals and a Clothing Grant changed for the Academic year 2018/2019. Historically, parents/carers submit an application for this on an annual basis. The Council have now moved to an auto enrolment for families that are in receipt of Council Tax Relief.

Auto Enrolment.  Free School Meals which includes £134 School Clothing Grant for all eligible children

· Families currently receiving Free School Meals that are currently in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, will be automatically reassessed and payments issued. 

· If you are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, and do not currently have Free School Meals, and you meet the qualifying criteria, we will automatically enrol you for Free School Meals/Clothing Grants. However, you will have the option to opt out.   Please look out for your letter in the post towards the end of July. 

· Families that are not in receipt of Council Tax Reduction will need to submit an application as we will be unable to check if you meet the qualifying criteria.  Please see below.


New parents are required to complete an application and provide supporting evidence in the following circumstances:

· you are an asylum seeker receiving support under part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999,

· live outwith the region and your child (ren) attends a school within Dumfries and Galloway.

· You meet the qualifying criteria but are not in receipt of Council Tax reduction. (You may be eligible for a discount on your council tax in special circumstances). For more information please hit the link below.

Qualifying Criteria

Your child will receive free school meals if you are in receipt any of the following:

· Income Support

· Jobseeker's Allowance (Income based)

· Employment and Support Allowance (Income based)

· Child Tax Credit on its own, with an annual taxable income of less than £16,105 (subject to change)

· Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit with an annual taxable income of less than £6,900 (subject to change)

· Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

· Universal Credit with a monthly earned income of not more than £610

In addition to the criteria above, Councils are now able to use their discretion in order to provide free school meals to pupils who may be under hardship due to exceptional circumstances. You can contact us if you wish to discuss. An application should be completed.

There are also a number of additional criteria which mean children at nursery can receive a Free School Meal:

· Severe Disability Allowance (parent)

· State Pension Credit

· Under a Kinship or Guardianship Order

· Looked after child since their second birthday

· Incapacity Benefit

These extra qualifying benefits are not considered if your application is for a primary or secondary pupil.

What Happens Next

You may also qualify for a  school clothing grant  or financial help with school transport .


Best Start Grant School Age Payment Now Open for Applications

The payment itself will provide families in Scotland, who are on a low income, with £250 to help with the costs of a child starting school.  People can apply around the time a child normally starts Primary 1 and if they get certain benefits or tax credits.  For this year that means if their child is born on or between 1 March 2014 to 28 Feb 2015. Applications can be made from 3 June 2019 until 29 February 2020 either online at or by contacting our Freephone helpline on 0800 182 2222. The helpline is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.


Page last updated: 23/07/2019
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