How to claim free school meals or uniform...

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Is your child entitled to free school meals or a school uniform allowance?

An Education Authority spokesperson said: “With the changes to the Working Tax Credit criteria, more families are now eligible to apply for free school meals and school uniform allowance.”

“Over the last five years, the numbers of young people entitled to free school meals has risen by 48%, an increase from around 64,000 to almost 95,000. However, according to statistics, more than one in five children, approximately 16,000 pupils, who are eligible for free school meals do not avail of them.

“The Minister for Education, John O’Dowd, stated that no one should underestimate the impact hunger can have on a child’s learning, development, educational attainment and ultimately on their lifetime opportunities.”

The Education Authority would like to remind parents of the changes to the criteria and encourage parents to make an application and avail of free school meals the uniform grant.

Details on how to apply are provided below.

Who is entitled?

For the 2015-2016 school year Free School Meals / School Uniform / Physical Education Clothing Allowance can be awarded if you are currently in receipt of one of the following benefits -

Income Support; or Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance; or Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance; or The Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit; or Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit with an annual taxable income of £16,190 or less.

Or if you are an Asylum Seeker supported by the Home Office National Asylum Support Service (NASS); or if your child has a statement of special educational needs and is designated to require a special diet.

Pupils must be in full-time education at school/college.

The Clothing Scheme does not apply to pupils in attendance at Nursery School / Nursery Unit / Reception Class / Independent Schools or to pupils qualifying for Free School Meals under the ‘Special Diet’ criteria.

Colleges of Further Education: Students attending a full-time course who have not attained the age of 18 years on or before 31 July are entitled to free school meals. If a student is required to take part in physical education classes as part of their course a PE allowance can be applied for. Students on a paid trainingcourse are not entitled to free school meals or a uniform allowance.

Only one application form is required to be completed and the form can be obtained from schools/colleges or the Education Authority, North Eastern region Meals and Uniform Section on Tel: 028 2566 2573/7761.

Information is also available on the Education Authority website at www.eani.org.uk by clicking on “Parents” then “Meals and Uniforms” or by writing to the Meals and Uniform Section, Education Authority North Eastern region, County Hall, 182 Galgorm Road, Ballymena, BT42 1HN.