Money Wellness
Image of children in school eating their lunch together
category iconbenefits
calendar icon23 Jun 2023

Will you get free food vouchers over the summer school holidays?

Families of children who get free school meals during term time could receive £15 a week in vouchers this summer to help with the cost of food.

Thousands of the lowest income households and the most vulnerable in the UK will receive the vouchers through the household support fund (HSF) to help with the cost of living.

Each council gets a different portion of funding depending on the size of their catchment area, population and need.

This means the support on offer varies, so you’ll have to check what’s available in your area. Manchester Council is giving a £15 weekly payment for each eligible child. Vouchers will be given out by schools. The council has also set aside £190,000 for a holiday activity fund.

The best way to check what your council is offering is by visiting their website. Use your postcode to find your local council.

Who’s eligible for free school meals?

Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • support under part V1 of the immigration and asylum act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of pension credit
  • child tax credit (provided you’re not also entitled to working tax credit and your annual gross income is no more than £16,190)
  • working tax credit run-on paid for 4 weeks after you stopped qualifying for working tax credit
  • universal credit if you applied on or after 1 April 2018 and your household income is less than £7,400 a year after tax and not including any benefits you get

Children who get these benefits paid directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

Infant free school meals in England

Your child will also get free school meals if they’re in a government funded school and in:

  • reception class
  • year 1
  • year 2

If your child isn’t getting free school meals but you think they qualify, tell your local council.


Holiday activity and food programme

Children who receive free school meals may also be entitled to support from the holiday activity and food programme (HAF). This scheme provides healthy food and activities to children and young people.

HAF is funded by the government and run by councils who help deliver holiday clubs.

Activities range from arts and drama to sports and music. Trips out and other learning experiences are also on offer. Providers must also offer healthy free meals, nutritional education, and daily physical activities.

HAF is primarily for primary or secondary school children who receive benefits-related free school meals, although councils do have some flexibility to provide free access to other children.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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