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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Income threshold raised for accessing free school meals and uniform grants in NI

Education logo with school uniforms

Education Minister Paul Givan has announced an interim change to the eligibility criteria for families applying for free school meals and uniform grants.


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



This interim change aims to broadly maintain the number of pupils entitled to these supports in the 2024/25 academic year. This takes account of wage inflation and the ongoing transition of some legacy benefits claimants to Universal Credit.


The increased threshold will take effect from when the Education Authority (EA) opens its application portal in June 2024 for applications and is an interim rise pending completion of the ongoing review of the eligibility criteria for free school meals and uniform grants.



Education Minister Paul Givan said:


“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.


“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.”


Information on free school meals and uniform grants and how to apply is available on the EA website:


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