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Free School Meals (eFSM) and School Essentials Grant

Free School Meals (eFSM)

Changes to Transitional Protection from 31/12/23
The Minister for Education in Wales has decided that Transitional Protection will cease to be applied to any new applications for Free School Meals (eFSM) beyond 31/12/23.                                                                                                                  This means that from 01/01/24, any new applications for eFSM that are successfully processed as the parent is ‘eligible’ will not be afforded transitional protection if the parent loses eligibility, which would occur if they had a change in their income that moves them away from the qualifying income types listed on this page.

We have put together some FAQ’s/issues we anticipate may occur due to these changes, to help parents understand what it may mean in specific circumstances:

Q. A child was already using Transitional Protection prior to 31/12/23 as the parent had previously lost eligibility.  Will the protection now end on 31/12/23?                  A. No – The Minister has made it clear that for those cases already ‘using’ the protection on 31/12/23, it will remain in use until the end of the child’s current phase of education.  By phase of education, we mean primary or secondary school. 

Q. What if a child was already receiving FSM based on being ‘eligible’ prior to 31/12/23, does this mean they won’t get protected if the parent income changes? A. No – The protection is still available for any case that was already eligible on, or before 31/12/23.  The protection will be available, if parental income changes, until the end of the child’s current phase of education.                                                     

Q. Does this mean that for any new FSM applications made after 31/12/23, if the parent loses eligibility, FSM ends?                                                                              A. Yes – Any application made after 31/12/23 that was initially successfully granted based on eligibility, if the parental income changes so that the child is no longer eligible, protection won’t be available, so FSM   will end. If this happens and your child is in primary school, all schools have been reminded that in this scenario, if the child is in an appropriate year, the child should be offered a meal under Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) provision.                                               

Q. How will I/my child’s school know who will/won’t be offered protection?              A. Any new applications after 31/12/23, if successful, will result in an email being sent to you and your child’s school. This email will specifically inform you and the school that the child is not to be transitionally protected.                                           

Q. I think my child should be ‘eligible’ based on my income, but the school has them as transitionally protected, what should I do?                                                      A. The parent should prove that they are eligible by forwarding proof of their income to, making sure they tell us their full name, address and name/DOB of the child in question. It is important that we have details of your up-to-date income because if it is incorrect, it can stop you accessing further funding, such as School Essentials (uniform grant).                         

Q. I have moved from another Welsh area where my child was receiving FSM based on transitional protection.  Can this transfer to Flintshire?                                          A. Yes – But this cannot happen automatically as Welsh Government tell us that the parent must either apply for FSM with us, or prove that you had received FSM elsewhere in Wales based on transitional protection. If you cannot prove you got FSM elsewhere in Wales due to transitional protection, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help you. As this is a relatively new issue, we are still in the process of enhancing our application forms to make this easier for parents.

Free school meals (eFSM) and Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) understanding the difference. 

Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) - It is Welsh Government’s aim that every child in primary school in Wales will be eligible for a universal primary free school meal (UPFSM) by 2024, regardless of household income. There will be no forms to fill in. Receiving a UPFSM in this way does not automatically entitle families to receive other benefits such as school essentials grants.  For more information on UPFSM go to:

Free School Meals (eFSM) - Some families who meet certain criteria, for example those on lower incomes or in receipt of certain benefits, are entitled to receive a free school meal (eFSM).  

On a successful application for eFSM families are then eligible for other benefits to cover the cost of school essentials such as school essentials grants (PDG). 

Even though the roll out of UPFSM will begin in September 2022, and eligible year groups will begin to receive free school meals, families who are eligible for eFSM should continue to use the eFSM application process to ensure they don't lose out on other benefits. 

What is Free School Meals (eFSM) Policy?

Free school meals (eFSM) will be provided for pupils whose parents receive:

  • Income Support,
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance,
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999,
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance,
  • Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and their annual income does not exceed £16,190,
  • Guarantee element of State Pension Credit,
  • Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit.
  • Universal credit(If earned income is included in the assessment of UC it must be less than £616.66).

How do I apply for eFSM?

You must complete an online form to apply for free school meals (eFSM).

Frequently Asked Questions


My child lives in Flintshire but attends school outside of Flintshire.  Where do I claim Free School Meals (eFSM) from?

This is an area where we receive many queries.  Our grant conditions for Free School Meal (eFSM) funding tell us that the Council responsible for the school where the child attends is where the parent should claim from.  As an example, if a child lives in Gronant (Flintshire) but attends a school in Prestatyn (Denbighshire), Free School Meals (eFSM) funding would be the responsibility of Denbighshire County Council so the parent must apply to Denbighshire.  This is exactly the same for school essentials grant (PDG).

However, if a child lives in Flintshire but attends school in a neighbouring, English County (such as Chester), then we have special conditions from Welsh Government introduced in August 2022 that allow us to assess such cases. Please note, as this change was made in August 2022, Welsh Government have told us that we cannot overturn refusals for this reason from prior years.  We would therefore appreciate parents understanding in this regard and refrain from asking us to overturn previous decisions.

I should have applied earlier and have missed out on payments for holidays as a result.  If I apply now, can it be backdated?

Unfortunately not.  The policy that governs Free School Meals (eFSM) expressly states that backdating is not permitted.  We often receive queries and complaints in this area but regret that we have no discretion to award backdating.

I am a foster carer, can I claim Free School Meals (eFSM) for the child I foster?

Yes – Please follow the link on this page.  When you are filling in the online form, there is an income selection for ‘Foster Allowance’.

My child is enrolled with a Flintshire school but does not attend school for a given reason, such as health issues, disability, exclusion etc.  Can I be paid for eFSM instead?

No – eFSM is about the provision of a meal for a child and this is something that Welsh Government (WG) are very firm on.  We may be able to make alterations to meal provisions, such as making a packed lunch available that can be collected by the parent, but this is in exceptional circumstances.  Please contact us if you would like more information about this.

I have a child or another child starting school in September.  Will they automatically get free school meals?

If your child is starting reception class in September, they will automatically qualify for the new, Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM).  However, if the parent is in receipt of a certain income (see bullet points above), they must still apply for Free School Meals (eFSM).  This is because if they don’t, they won’t be able to access other funding, such as school essentials grant (PDG).  We have more information about this here:

Why is it important to apply?

If you are eligible to receive free school meals (eFSM) it is very important to your child’s school that you apply. The school can access funding for children who qualify for free school meals (eFSM) that will allow them to provide targeted support programs, buy equipment and resources etc.

If your child prefers to take a packed lunch or make other arrangements it is still important to register for free school meals (eFSM) so the school can access funding. 

For Enquires



School Essentials Grant

School Essential Grants – Academic Year 23/24
Before you submit an application for a School Essentials Grant, please be aware the process is changing this year and you may not need to apply.

• Are your children in receipt of eFSM?
• Are your children in Year 1 or above?
• Have you been receiving payments in lieu of eFSM during the school holidays?
• Did you receive a School Essentials Grant (formerly known as Uniform Grant) between 1st July 2022 and 30th June 2023?

If you answer YES to ALL of the questions above, then you do not need to apply for a School Essential Grant this year, as the payments will be issued automatically by 30th July 2023. If you have not received the payment by 30th July 2023, please email to advise the payment has not been received.

For new applications, we will be prioritising Reception and Year 7.

We have put together some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) below.

Please read these carefully before applying.

You can apply for a School Essentials Grant for children starting the following years in September 2023:

Reception, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11

Looked after (foster care) children can qualify in any academic year.

In order to be eligible to apply, parents must already be in receipt of, or applying for Free School Meals (eFSM) based on the following income;

• Income Support,

 • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance,

 • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999,

 • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, 

• Child Tax Credit,

 • provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and their annual income does not exceed £16,190, 

• Guarantee element of State Pension Credit,

 • Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit. 

• Universal credit(If earned income is included in the assessment of UC it must be less than £616.66)

The Funding is also available to all looked after children (Foster Care) of compulsory school age and pupils with no recourse to public funds.

For Enquires Email:

You must complete an online form to apply for School Essentials grants.


Why do I have to apply? Can you not just pay me for my children that are eligible?

No – The grants we administer are funded by WG and our grant conditions confirm we have to receive an application from the parent. We also have to retain these for audit purposes and to prove we are paying only for children whose parents meet the eligibility criteria.  We also need to be able to obtain parents bank account details, to enable us to pay the grant money to them.  We cannot do this without an application form.

I need more information or I need to check if I’ve claimed before.

We would kindly ask parents to email us at to find out.  We aim to respond to emails within 48 hours.

How much money will I get?

All qualifying years except year 7 = £125.00

Year 7 = £200

Why can I not claim for 6th form (years 12 & 13)?

 As these years are additional to compulsory years of education, it is not funded by WG.

My child receives the new, Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM).  Does this mean I qualify for a School Essentials Grant?

 No – We have a webpage that explains why in detail, please look at bullet point 2 on the following link:

Uniform Grant seems to be called a few things, such as PDG (Pupil Deprivation Grant) and school essentials.  Why is this?

The official term the government and Council’s use is PDG but parents tend to know it as uniform grant, which is why we call it this on our website and application form.  You may have seen the term ‘school essentials’ more recently and this has come from Welsh Government (WG).  It is likely that the term uniform grant will be rebranded as school essentials in future.