Since 2010, the number of children receiving a free meal at school has increased by more than two million. This is thanks to the introduction of universal infant free school meals, alongside protections put in place as benefit recipients move across to Universal Credit. Over a third of pupils in England now receive Free School Meals (FSM) in education, compared with one in six in 2010.
The department believes that the current eligibility threshold level, which enables children in low-income households to benefit from FSM, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. The department does not have plans to change the current eligibility conditions for FSM, but we will continue to keep eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who need them most. The department continues to monitor the consequences of the rising cost of living and is working with other government departments to provide support to disadvantaged families.