Eligibility for free school meals and the early years pupil premium under Universal Credit

Closed 11 Jan 2018

Opened 16 Nov 2017


This consultation invites views on our proposed approach to the following passported benefits under Universal Credit:

  • free school meals eligibility for pupils in primary and secondary education and students in further education; and
  • the early years pupil premium. 

This consultation document explains:

  • The general principles we have taken into account in considering changes to the eligibility criteria for free school meals and the early years pupil premium in light of the introduction of Universal Credit. Our intention is that these entitlements reach the most disadvantaged households in a way that is consistent, fair and simple.
  • The measures we plan to take to protect those families who would otherwise lose entitlement to free school meals as a result of this criteria change.
  • Our plans for communicating these changes to parents, providers and local authorities, and the steps we will take to support their implementation.

This consultation is about these entitlements in England only. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have responsibility for establishing their own criteria for these entitlements.

The full consultation document is provided as a PDF file below.

What happens next

The results of the consultation and the Department's response will be published on www.gov.uk.


  • Headteachers
  • Governors
  • Early learning and childcare providers
  • Local authorities
  • Further education colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Parents
  • Foster carers
  • Adoptive parents


  • Education
  • Early learning and childcare
  • Financial support (Looked after children)
  • Support in education
  • Financial management
  • School and academy funding
  • School funding reform