Free school meals and associated payments

Free school meals are provided for all pupils in Primary 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. They are also available to those in P6/7 and in S1 to S6 for children in families in receipt of qualifying benefits.

Free School Meals for children before they go to school

Children in early learning and childcare can qualify for free lunches on the days that they attend if they have a funded place. Your child can however also get a free lunch in early learning and childcare if you meet the qualifying criteria below. 

Free School Meals can lead to a large saving each year for parents of eligible pupils as your child may also qualify for a School Clothing Grant and holiday food payments (see below *)

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.

More information on these payments can also be found on the Scottish Government website:

Qualifying Criteria

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

  • Income support
  • Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit (where their monthly earned income is not more than £796)
  • Child Tax Credit, but not Working Tax Credit, where their income is less than £19,995
  • Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit where their income is not more than £9,552

If you have a child who has a Coordinated Support Plan (CPS) then you are also entitled to Free School Meals.

Receiving Council Tax Reduction

Families receiving Free School Meals/School Clothing Grant, who are currently in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, may be assessed using information we already hold. This means that when you make a claim, you may not need to provide any additional information.

*The assessment for Free School Meals will also include an assessment to check if you are eligible for School Clothing Grant and Holiday Food Payments

School Clothing Grant

This is currently £134 for Primary aged children and £150 for Secondary aged children and is paid yearly.

Holiday Food Payments

You may also qualify for Holiday food Payments - a cash payment made to your bank account during holiday periods and certain other unforeseen days off. This is currently £2.50 per day and can be available to the following groups:

  • Children in early learning and childcare who have a funded place or who's family meets the qualifying criteria
  • Children who attend Nursery who's family meets the qualifying criteria
  • Children in P1 to P7 and S1 to S6 who's family meets the qualifying criteria (note, this is not available to those in P1 to P5 who receive their free lunch but do not meet the qualifying criteria).

To find out if your child is eligible for Free School Meals, click here:

If you are still eligible the following year, you may be automatically re-awarded, depending on your circumstances. If you have any doubt about this, you should check with your school as soon as you can in case you need to make a new application.

Exceptional Circumstances

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. An application form should be completed, and you can contact us if you wish to discuss 030 33 33 3000. 
If you need to complete an application form, please see below.


Change to payment details

You must tell us if there are any changes to your circumstances, such as:

  • Change of parent/guardian
  • Change of bank details
  • Change of address
  • Additional Children
  • Children leaving school
  • You no longer meet the income qualifying criteria

We aim to get as many eligible families to take up Free School Meals as possible.

If you are in receipt of Council Tax Reduction and do not currently have Free School Meals, we may contact you if you meet the qualifying criteria above. This contact may be via the post, or via email or telephone, if we have your contact information.

To report a change in your circumstances email us at

Page last updated: 10/05/2024
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