Free School Meals – Extension to Transitional Protection

As of the 1 February, the government have extended the current end date for the transitional protection of Free School Meals (FSM) claims from March 2023 to March 2025. This is due to the roll out of Universal Credit continuing and means that all current and eligible FSM claims will remain eligible until at least this date, regardless of any change in family circumstances.

Transitional protections were initially enacted with an end date of March 2022, the date the rollout of Universal Credit was due to end. When the end date moved to March 2023 the Government extended the protections in line with this date. As the rollout is continuing, the end date for transitional protections is being further extended to March 2025.

This means that pupils who were eligible on 1 April 2018, or who became eligible since then, continue to receive free meals, even if their household is no longer eligible under the benefits/low-earnings criteria, up until March 2025.

After March 2025, any existing claimants that no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because they are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) will continue to receive FSM until the end of their current phase of education (i.e., primary or secondary).

Please see the updated government guidance here for further information: Free school meals (

The Free School Meals team will email the primary contact we hold at each school with information which:

  • Provides schools with confirmation of the extended transitional protection deadline.
  • Includes a letter to parents/carers which schools can distribute to their eligible families to inform them of this extension.
  • Includes updated Free School Meal posters with new ‘March 2025’ date to encourage FSM registration.

Should you have any further queries please contact the Free School Meals Team at [email protected].