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Free School Meals - Holiday Direct Payments

Christmas Holiday 2023

Following the decision to provide direct payments for free school meals during the school holiday periods, these payments will continue to be provided over the December 2023 holiday period for those families of school age pupils entitled to free school meals who receive a qualifying benefit.  The payment will be made on Friday 22 December 2023 for applications which were approved and processed prior to 11 December 2023. This payment will also cover the in-service date on 10 November 2023.

If you were in receipt of a qualifying benefit (listed below), your child received free school meals as at 11 December 2023, and you received a school clothing grant during school session 2023/2024, you do not need to contact us - a payment will be made automatically to you.  Education and Children's Services will contact parents directly where bank account details are not currently held.   If you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit for free school meals but did not receive a school clothing grant, please contact us at

NB - Children receiving Free School Meals based on universal provision (P1 - 5), and those currently receiving free lunches in Early Learning and Childcare settings, are not eligible for this payment.

Qualifying benefits

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income based Job Seeker's Allowance (IBJSA)
  • Any income related element of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC), but not Working Tax Credit, and your income is less than £18,725.
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC) and your income is less than £8,717
  • If you are between 16 and 18 years old and receive any of these benefits in your own right, you can claim free school meals for yourself
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit where the monthly earned income does not exceed £726
Last modified on 01 December 2023

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