Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice

Financial support - free school meals

Updated 12 January 2021

We have launched the following financial support for families who have pupils entitled to free school meals - this does not include those entitled to universal provision of P1-3 meals:

  • free school meals payments during school holidays
  • free school meals payment for pupils who are self-isolating
  • free school meals payment during the current lockdown

Information on free school meals payments during the school holiday period has been updated in light of the recent announcement by the Scottish Government and will be paid until 29 January.

The Scottish Government has given councils funding for pupils who get free school meals (excluding those entitled to universal provision of P1-3 meals) for the following school holidays:

  • Extended school closure period (Monday 18 Friday - 29 January) – one-off payment of £30 paid by Friday 15 January
  • February 2021 mid-term break - one-off payment of £9 paid by Friday 5 February 
  • Spring break 2021 - one-off payment of £33 paid by Wednesday 31 March

Although all P1-3 pupils receive a free school meal the payments will only be made if you get any of the following benefits and are therefore eligible for free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (and your earned income is less than £610 as assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions in the assessment period immediately preceding the application for free school meals)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Child Tax Credit only (with a gross annual income less than £16,105 as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice TC602)
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit (with a gross annual income less than £7,330) as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them.

In exceptional circumstances we may pay by cheque or PayPoint voucher.

Q. Who is eligible for a free school meal payment during school holidays?

A. Any household with a child or young person eligible for free school meals who attends primary or secondary school, (including ASN schools), who get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on whether you are eligible, see the Free School Meals page.

Q. Are all children in P1-P3 eligible for this payment?

A. No. Although, all P1 to P3 pupils automatically get a free school meal you will only get this payment if you get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on eligibility see the Free school meals page.

Q. Does this payment include nursery children?

A. No, nursery children are not legally entitled to free school meals. The current statutory entitlement is 600 hours per year and does not include providing food. 

Q. When will I receive my payments?

A. For the extended school closure period (Monday 18 - Friday 29 January), we aim to have payments issued by Monday 18 January. For the February mid-term break, we aim to have payments issued by Friday 5 February. For the spring break, we aim to have payments issued by Wednesday 31 March.

Q. Will I get a payment for each of my children?

A. Yes, you will receive a payment for each eligible child or young person.

Q. Do I need to apply for this payment?

A. No. The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them. In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. I believe I should have received this payment but haven’t. Who should I contact?

A. You should use our enquiry form.

If you have any other questions about free school meals during school holidays use our enquiry form.

A one-off payment of £30 will be made to parents/carers towards the cost of lunch for pupils who are eligible for free school meals but can't attend school because they are self-isolating as part of the Test and Protect Scheme.

This excludes those entitled to the universal provision of P1-3 meals.

This will begin for any new cases of pupils self-isolating from Monday 23 November 2020 onwards. Payments will not be backdated.

Your child will have been advised to self-isolate because they have:

  • tested positive for COVID-19
  • been in close contact with someone at school who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • been in close contact with someone in their household or another social contact who has tested positive for COVID-19

This does not cover short periods of isolation, where pupils are waiting for a test result because:

  • they are displaying symptoms
  • another household member is displaying symptoms

Pupils eligible for free school meals will not be paid the one-off payment for these short periods of absence, however, if the pupil or household member tests positive and the pupil needs to isolate for a longer period, the payment will be made.

Although all P1-3 pupils receive a free school meal the payments will only be made if you get any of the following benefits and are therefore eligible for free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (and your earned income is less than £610 as assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions in the assessment period immediately preceding the application for free school meals)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Child Tax Credit only (with a gross annual income less than £16,105 as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice TC602)
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit (with a gross annual income less than £7,330) as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The one-off payment of £30 will be paid within 6 working days after the 4th day of absence, provided you already receive free school meals. This means payment will be made towards the end of the self-isolation period.

The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them.

In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. Who is eligible to receive a free school meal payment while they are self-isolating?

A. Any child or young person eligible for free school meals through means testing who attends primary or secondary school, (including ASN schools) and who needs to self-isolate, either because they have tested positive or they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive. Note this is for new cases of pupils self-isolating from Monday 23 November 2020.

Q. Are all children in P1-P3 eligible for this payment if self-isolating?

A. No. Although, all P1 to P3 pupils automatically get a free school meal you will only get this payment if you get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on eligibility see the Free school meals page.

Q. Does this payment include nursery children?

A. No, nursery children are not legally entitled to free school meals. The current statutory entitlement is 600 hours per year and does not include providing food.  

Q. Do I need to apply for this payment?

A. No. The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them. In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. When will I receive the payment?

A. We will aim to pay you within 6 working days after the 4th day of absence from school. This means payment will be made towards the end of the self-isolation period.

Q. My child was self-isolating in September and is entitled to free school meals. Can I get a back-dated payment for them?

A. No, this payment was introduced on 23 November and covers all new cases of self-isolation of eligible pupils from that date.

Q. Do I need to show the school evidence of the request to self-isolate to receive this payment?

A. You may be asked to give the school proof from NHS Test and Protect.

Q. Is there any other support available during this difficult time?

A. Yes, our Community Wellbeing line can give you help and support. You can phone them on 0303 123 1009 but information on other help available is on the How to get help page.

Q. I believe I should have received this payment but haven’t. Who should I contact?

A. You should use our enquiry form.

If you have any other questions about free school meal payments while self-isolating use our enquiry form.

Any pupil eligible for free school meals and who received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer advising that they should not attend school and should shield for the 3-week period from Monday 23 November to Friday 11 December will receive a one-off free school meals payment of £45 if they do not attend school during this period.

This excludes those entitled to the universal provision of P1-3 meals.

You do not have to apply - if you are eligible you will be paid automatically by Monday 7 December.

The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them.

In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. Who is eligible to get a free school meal payment whilst shielding?

A. Any child or young person eligible for free school meals who attends primary or secondary school, (including ASN schools) and has received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer instructing them to shield during the Level 4 period. This is only available to those who are shielding and do not attend school during the Level 4 period.

Q. Are all children in P1-P3 eligible for this payment if shielding?

A. No. Although, all P1 to P3 pupils automatically get a free school meal you will only get this payment if you get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on eligibility see the Free school meals page.

Q. Does this payment include nursery children?

A. No, nursery children are not legally entitled to free school meals. The current statutory entitlement is 600 hours per year and does not include providing food. 

Q. Do I need to apply for this payment?

A. No. The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them. In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. Do I need to give the school proof of the shielding letter from the Chief Medical Officer to receive this payment?

A. You may need to provide the school with proof of the shielding letter from the Chief Medical Officer.

Q. My child is entitled to free school meals but hasn't received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer. Due to family circumstances we are choosing to shield. Will I receive the free school meal shielding payment?

A. No, only children entitled to free school meals, and who have received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer will receive this payment. However, your child will still receive holiday payment if they meet the relevant criteria.

Q. My child received a shielding letter, but we have decided they will still attend school, as we are confident with the measures the school has in place to keep them safe. Do we still receive the £45 payment?

A. No. If your child is attending school they will receive their free meal at school. This payment is only for those who are shielding and not attending school during the current Level 4 restrictions.

Q. When will I receive the payment?

A. We will aim to make this payment by Monday 7 December 2020.

Q. Is there any other support available during this difficult time?

A. Yes, our Community Wellbeing line can give you help and support. You can phone them on 0303 123 1009 but information on other help available is on the How to get help page.

Q. I believe I should have received this payment but haven’t. Who should I contact?

A. You should use our enquiry form.

If you have any other questions about free school meal payments while shielding use our enquiry form.

This is a one-off payment of £50 to help families of pupils entitled to free school meals (excluding those entitled to universal provision of P1-3 meals) with winter fuel costs.

We will update this page when we have more information on the one-off £100 payment announced by the Scottish Government as part of their Winter Plan for Social Protection.

Although all P1-3 pupils receive a free school meal the payments will only be made if you get any of the following benefits and are therefore eligible for free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (and your earned income is less than £610 as assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions in the assessment period immediately preceding the application for free school meals)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Child Tax Credit only (with a gross annual income less than £16,105 as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice TC602)
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit (with a gross annual income less than £7,330) as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

You do not have to apply. If you are eligible the payment will automatically be paid by Friday 11 December 2020.

The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them.

In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. Who is eligible to receive a winter payment?

A. Any household with a child or young person eligible for free school meals who attends primary or secondary school, (including ASN schools), that is who get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on whether you are eligible, see the Free School Meals page.

Q. Are all children in P1-P3 eligible for this payment?

A. No. Although, all P1 to P3 pupils automatically get a free school meal you will only get this payment if you get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on eligibility see the Free school meals page.

Q. Does this payment include nursery children?

A. No, nursery children are not legally entitled to free school meals. The current statutory entitlement is 600 hours per year and does not include providing food. 

Q. Do I need to apply for this payment?

A. No. The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them. In exceptional circumstances we may pay by PayPoint voucher.

Q. When will I receive the payment?

A. We will aim to make the payment by Friday 11 December. If you have not received your payment by Monday 14 December, please fill out our enquiry form.

Q. I have three children entitled to free school meals. Does this mean I will receive £50 per child and therefore £150 in total?

A. No. This payment is for the household, not per child. Each entitled household will receive a £50 payment.

Q. I believe I should have received payment and haven’t, who do I contact?

A. If you have not received your payment by Monday 14 December, please use our enquiry form.

If you have any other questions about the winter payment use our enquiry form.

This is a one-off payment of £100 to help families of pupils entitled to free school meals (excluding those entitled to universal provision of P1-3 meals) with winter costs such as Christmas presents, food, fuel and other essentials.

Although all P1-3 pupils receive a free school meal the payments will only be made if you get any of the following benefits and are therefore eligible for free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Universal Credit (and your earned income is less than £610 as assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions in the assessment period immediately preceding the application for free school meals)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Child Tax Credit only (with a gross annual income less than £16,105 as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice TC602)
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit (with a gross annual income less than £7,330) as assessed by HM Revenues and Customs on your Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

You do not have to apply. If you are eligible the payment will automatically be paid by Monday 21 December 2020.

The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them.

In exceptional circumstances we may pay by cheque.

Q. Who is eligible to receive the £100 winter payment?

A. Any household with a child or young person eligible for free school meals who attends primary or secondary school, (including ASN schools), that is who get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on whether you are eligible, see the Free School Meals page.

Q. Are all children in P1-P3 eligible for this payment?

A. No. Although, all P1 to P3 pupils automatically get a free school meal you will only get this payment if you get any of the benefits listed above. For more information on eligibility see the Free school meals page.

Q. Does this payment include nursery children?

A. No, nursery children are not legally entitled to free school meals. The current statutory entitlement is 600 hours per year and does not include providing food. 

Q. Do I need to apply for this payment?

A. No. The payment will be made direct into your bank account using bank details we already have from making the footwear and clothing grant payments earlier this year. We have sent you an email or a letter with a link to complete a form to give us your bank details if we don't already have them. In exceptional circumstances we may pay by cheque.

Q. When will I receive the payment?

A. We will aim to make the payment by Monday 21 December. If you have not received your payment by Tuesday 22 December, please fill out our enquiry form.

Q. I have three children entitled to free school meals. Does this mean I will receive £100 per child and therefore £300 in total?

A. Yes, this payment is for each child eligible for free school meals so if you have three children you will receive £100 for each child and a total of £300

Q. I believe I should have received payment and haven’t, who do I contact?

A. If you have not received your payment by Tuesday 22 December, please use our enquiry form.

If you have any other questions about the winter £100 payment use our enquiry form.