To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to ensure that local authorities, schools, academies and free schools are issued with guidance on the continuation of transitional protection of free school meal eligibility during the 2022-2023 academic year for children from families in receipt of Universal Credit.
When the government introduced the new free school meals (FSM) eligibility criteria in April 2018, they introduced transitional protections that would apply during the universal credit roll out period to ensure that no child would lose their eligibility to FSM. These protections were enacted in our Commencement Order with the end date of March 2022, the date the rollout was then due to end.
When the end date moved to March 2023, the government confirmed that it had extended the end date of the protections to match this. Whilst the rollout is in progress, the government will continue to keep its guidance under review and will make any necessary changes ahead of March 2023.
The extended date of March 2023 has been confirmed in the school census guidance available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1047457/2021-22_School_Census_Business_and_Technical_Specification_Version_1.7_publishing.pdf and is also available at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals.