Northern Ireland free school meals and uniform grants eligibility change announced

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An interim change to the eligibility criteria for Northern Ireland families applying for free school meals and uniform grants has been announced.

It means that the annual net earnings threshold applying to free school meals and uniform grants applicants who are in receipt of Universal Credit has been raised from £14,000 to £15,000.

The increased threshold will take effect from when the Education Authority (EA) opens its application portal in June. For more details on how to apply for free school meals and uniform grants go to the EA website.

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Education Minister Paul Givan said the interim change “aims to broadly maintain” the number of pupils entitled to these supports in the 2024 / 25 academic year.

An interim change has been announced to the eligibility criteria for families in Northern Ireland applying for free school meals and uniform grants. Picture: pixabayAn interim change has been announced to the eligibility criteria for families in Northern Ireland applying for free school meals and uniform grants. Picture: pixabay
An interim change has been announced to the eligibility criteria for families in Northern Ireland applying for free school meals and uniform grants. Picture: pixabay

The change takes account of wage inflation and the ongoing transition of some legacy benefits claimants to Universal Credit.

“I’m pleased to announce this interim change in the eligibility criteria for free school meals and uniform grants so that families receiving Universal Credit with net annual household earnings of up to £15,000 can now access these valuable supports,” said the Minister.

“Free school meals and uniform grants are important supports for low-income families. This change aims to broadly maintain the number of school children able to access these supports in the 2024/25 academic year.

“This interim change is pending the completion of my Department’s review of the eligibility criteria for free school meals and uniform grants which I plan to consult on later in the year.”

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