New Free School Meals system
North Somerset Council (NSC) have replaced the old free school meal paper application forms with a new online checker.
The new checker can be found at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals.
Eligibility will only last until the end of each long term, so parents will need to reapply 3 times every year.
The reason they are asking parents to apply three times per year is so that parents’ benefits are assessed regularly. The online checker is linked to HMRC and DWP and gives the parent an instant result, rather than waiting 10 working 5 days for the paper application to be assessed, and then for the parent to be advised by post. This means that eligible pupils will get their free meals sooner. We have found in the past that parents don’t let us know if they are no longer entitled to free school meals, on average 10% of parents come out of eligibility each school holiday. The new system helps to prevent benefit fraud and avoid embarrassment when eligibility is cancelled.
The new system puts the responsibility on the parent to apply, should they want their child to have free meals. One application can save a parent over £60 each term. For those that become eligible between holidays or fail to reapply they can do so and get an instant response. The Parent/Carer can apply online at home, or anywhere with internet access and get an instant result. The system will generate a letter that parents can print off and give to schools to show eligibility.
If parents give schools their permission, schools can check eligibility on their behalf. In order to do this, the school would need the parent’s National Insurance number and date of birth.
NSC will send out a report at the end of each holiday listing all eligible children. Anyone who applies mid-term will be able to show schools their eligibility letter. Eligibility starts from the date on the letter, and stops at the end of that term.
For further information please see the North Somerset Council website, or ask in the school office.