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Council Services:

Free school meals and school transport

Free school meals

Parents in England do not have to pay for school meals if they receive any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The Guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credits and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on the payment someone may receive for a further 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

More families may now get free school meals
Working Tax Credit rules for couples have changed. The number of hours a couple has to work in order to qualify has increased to 24 hours or more with one of the couple working at least 16 hours. Some families may have lost their entitlement to Working Tax Credit. Those families may now be entitled to free school meals if they now satisfy any of the above criteria.

How to get free school meals
Approach your school first as some schools will sort this out for you. If you need to apply via the local authority then visit

Enquiry Line: 01522 782030.


Milk is free for all children under five who are in day care for two or more hours a day. This does include some four year olds who are in reception classes at primary schools. For children under 12 months it is given as formula.

Free fruit and vegetables in school

Your school may have joined a scheme which entitles children aged four to six years old to a piece of fruit or a vegetable everyday.

Free school transport

Local authorities must provide free home to school transport for children between the ages of five and 16, if they:

  • Live further away from the school than the statutory walking distances - two miles for pupils under eight, or three miles for eight years plus.
  • Are attending their nearest suitable school
  • Are from a low income family in which case: children aged 8-11 who go to their nearest suitable school, and live more than two miles away. Or children 11-16 who go to a suitable school between two to six miles from home, as long as there aren’t three or more suitable schools nearer to home.

Children also qualify for free transport - no matter what distance they live from the school - if they are unable to walk for any of the following reasons:

  • They have special educational needs
  • They have a disability or mobility problems
  • There is no safe walking route

Please note: There are areas of Lincolnshire where special arrangements apply. If you live within the city of Lincoln, the designated school for transport purposes is the school nearest to your address. Your child will not qualify for transport unless the nearest school with a place is over three miles from your address or if that school was full at the time you applied for a school place - or if you qualify under the low income arrangements.

You can apply anytime although you should apply for transport before the end of the school year for the upcoming September. If your application is not in by 31st July then they cannot guarantee transport will be in place for the start of the academic year. The months of July and August are very busy so get your application in early to avoid it being delayed.

To apply visit:

Click on ‘when should I apply’ - go to the end of the last paragraph and click on the link. Complete the online form and put in your details. Or:

If your child is over 16 and in further education or 6th form, your local authority may be able to help with transport costs so please contact them to find out more.

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Last updated: 17 August 2012

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