The Department for Education (DfE) has recently issued a paper on Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) which provides departmental advice for local authorities, maintained schools, academies and free schools to help recipients understand their obligation to provide free school meals. This briefing paper aims to summarise the key financial points in this document.
In England, children may be entitled to receive free school meals if their parents receive certain support payments. From September 2014, all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for free school meals. The Children and Families Bill places a legal duty on state-funded schools in England to offer a free school lunch to all children in these years from September 2014.
3. Key Points - Revenue Funding
- For 2014-15 funding will be provided at the flat rate of £2.30 for each meal taken by newly eligible pupils
- Schools will be expected to continue to fund meals for pupils eligible for FSM under the existing criteria in the same way as they do currently
- Additional one-off funding will be provided for 2014-15 for schools with less than 150 pupils (based on the January 2014 census there are only two schools in Rochdale this will apply to)
- Schools will be notified of their provisional full year funding allocation for the 2014-15 academic year in June 2014
- The first payment which is to cover the first two terms of the academic year will be received by Local Authorities in June 2014
- The allocation of funding will be based on pupil data in the January 2014 census and will also assume:
a. 87% of newly eligible pupils will take meals
b. Pupils will take 190 school meals in a school year
- This provisional full year funding allocation will be revised later in the academic year based on actual take-up data derived from the October 2014 and January 2015 Schools Censuses
- The payment for the third term of the 2014-15 academic year will be adjusted accordingly and is expected to be paid in April 2015
- Schools with low levels of take up may not receive an extra payment in the third term
- The allocation methodology for 2015-16 is to be confirmed in due course, but is expected to be based on take-up data from the Schools Census
- The pupil premium funding calculation will not be affected by the introduction of UIFSM
- Further guidance to be issued by the DfE on the year-end accounting treatment for an academic year grant
A timeline setting out when to expect revenue funding is shown at Appendix A.
March 2014 - DfE guidance issued
June2014 - First payment for first two terms of academic year to be received by Local Authorities
October 2014- School Census data collected – new indicator introduced to collect data on newly eligible pupils for UIFSM
January 2015 - School Census data collected
April 2015 - Payment for third term is made having been adjusted based on actual take-up.