Changes in Free School Meal Entitlement
As of April 2012 there are changes to the qualifying criteria for Working Tax Credit and in turn how families will be entitled to Free School Meals.
There will be new benefit rules applied to Working Tax Credit claimants that could mean that some people will lose their Free School Meals entitlement, but, could possibly then be entitled through their receipt of Child Tax Credit.
At the moment, couples responsible for at least one child and working at least 16 hours a week between them can get Working Tax Credit. From 6 April 2012, in most cases, to qualify for Working Tax Credit their joint working hours will need to be at least 24 hours a week. This will mean if both parents work their joint weekly hours must be at least 24, with one of them working at least 16 hours a week, or if only one parent works, that person must be working at least 24 hours a week. If neither of these applies, Working Tax Credit will stop from 6 April 2012. Some of those coming out of entitlement may well qualify for Free School Meals if they still receive Child Tax Credit and their Annual Taxable Income, as assessed by HMRC, is below £16,190.
The key thing to note is that if any parents lose their Working Tax Credit entitlement from April, it may be worth them contacting the Benefits Helpline (tel 0113 2224404) and asking for their eligibility to Education Benefits, Free School Meals and School Clothing Allowance to be reconsidered.