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Free School Meals (eFSM) and School Essentials Grant


Free School Meals (eFSM)

Holiday Provision
The holiday provision for eFSM learners was due to end following February half term 2023. In considering the continuing cost of living crisis, our Minister has agreed to extend the provision to include the Easter holidays, the May half term holiday and all bank holidays, including the Coronation.  
Payment will be made automatically for all those parents we hold bank details for

Free School Meals (FSM) payment for strike action 02/03/23
Flintshire County Council has made the decision that pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals (benefits/income based only, not universal provision) will receive a direct payment if their class or school is closed due to NEU industrial action.
This payment will be made automatically at a rate of £3.90 for each strike day, per eligible child.  Parents do not need to apply; payment is automatic.
Payment for all closed schools will be made on Monday 06/03/23 and should reach bank accounts by Friday 10/03/23 at the latest.For children receiving FSM that did not attend due to partially closed schools, the majority of these will also be paid on Monday 06/03/23.  
The following schools will receive payment later, with date to be confirmed, as there has been a delay in obtaining pupil absence data from the schools: Parc y Llan, Penyffordd, Sychdyn, Wepre, St John’s (Penymynydd), Gwenffrwd and Maes Garmon.
Please note – if your child/ren attended a partially closed school, payment will not be made as FSM provision was available.

Frequently Asked Questions


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 uniform grants.  For more information on UPFSM go to: www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Schools/Free-School-Meals.aspx

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 uniform 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).

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 uniform 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 at the bottom of the page to apply.  When you are filling in the online form, there is an income selection for ‘Foster Allowance’. 

What happens if my child has to be absent due to COVID?  Do I get a payment like when schools are closed for holidays?

No – As at the point schools return in September, we can no longer pay.  This is because Welsh Government (WG) have told us that this scheme has ended.

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 uniform grant (PDG).  We have more information about this here:

https://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Schools/Free-School-Meals.aspx

I think I’m missing payment/s or I haven’t had a payment/s.  Why is this?

You have to have live claim for eFSM to allow us to make payments.  If you haven’t received a payment, it is likely because we do not hold your bank details.  In 2020, we carried out a large exercise with the help of schools to get parents to give us their bank details so that we could pay them, but not everybody replied.  If you think you have missed out on payments, please contact us via email at: FreeSchoolMeals@flintshire.gov.uk

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

Email: FreeSchoolMeals@flintshire.gov.uk

School Essentials Grant

School Essentials Grant funding for the 2022/23 academic year is open to applications.

2022/23 funding is now open to applications until 30/06/2023.

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 2022:

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: FreeSchoolMeals@flintshire.gov.uk

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

FAQ

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 FreeSchoolMeals@flintshire.gov.uk to find out.  We aim to respond to emails within 48 hours.

How much money will I get?

For 2022/23 only (up to June 2023), WG have increased the amount for each year by £100.  This means the money you will get per eligible child is as follows:

All qualifying years except year 7 = £225.00

Year 7 = £300

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:

www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Schools/Free-School-Meals.aspx

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.