Search rightsnet
Search options

Where

Benefit

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction

From

to

Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Other benefit issues  →  Thread

TC qualifying conditions for Free school lunches and NHS exemption

EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 268

Joined: 10 March 2014

Hello Comrades,

Back on the scene having been off on mat leave.

Wondering whether anyone can help me figure out - Is there a disparity between the self-employed income conditions for qualifying for full help for those in receipt of Tax Credits when it comes to FREE SCHOOL LUNCHES and NHS CHARGES?

Looking at CPAG 2022/23 p.651 (NHS) and p.851 (Free school lunches).

Free school meals; says you can get if you are in receipt of CTC/WTC and annual taxable income of £16190.  Backtracking through the legal references it seems clear that this corresponds with TC regs and so would include your net profit from self-employment.

NHS exemption:  says you can get if you are in receipt of CTC/WTC and gross annual income for tax credits must not exceed £15276.  Backtracking through the legal references I am getting a bit lost and can’t find exactly how gross annual income is defined and whether that would include your net profit or gross turnover from self-employment.

Need to be clear on the rules so I can advised SE tax credit claimants.

Any advice gratefuly received as always.

EKS

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1143

Joined: 27 February 2019

NHS exemptions and free school meals both depend completely on annual income for tax credits purposes. So, for example, if the £2,500 disregard applies in tax credits, it will also affect free school meals and the NHS exemptions. (Your confusion re. NHS exemptions will probably be cleared up if you look at the interpretation reg in each set of regulations, where “relevant income” is defined by reference to tax credits legislation.)

But remember, those entitled to WTC are anyway not entitled to free school meals.

EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 268

Joined: 10 March 2014

Many thanks Charles, your input always appreciated.

I think I am clear on how the authorities catch up with you in relation to NHS exemption and tax credits ( https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/exemption-certificates/nhs-tax-credit-exemption-certificates)

Don’t suppose you know how they police the qualifying criteria for free school lunches?

EKS

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1143

Joined: 27 February 2019

The parent/guardian has to apply for free school lunches. At the point of application, the school will have to confirm eligibility, usually through the Local Authority who have a tool which can confirm eligibility by checking other government systems. Often the parent/guardian can apply straight to the Council.

At the moment, once you become entitled to free school lunches, you keep the eligibility until at least the end of that stage of schooling (primary or secondary), so there is no further need to check.

EKS_COTTON
forum member

Tax and Welfare Rights Officer, Equity

Send message

Total Posts: 268

Joined: 10 March 2014

Thanks Charles

[ Edited: 11 Jul 2022 at 01:48 pm by EKS_COTTON ]
Jana
forum member

Send message

Total Posts: 11

Joined: 18 June 2010

Charles - 17 May 2022 09:59 AM

At the moment, once you become entitled to free school lunches, you keep the eligibility until at least the end of that stage of schooling (primary or secondary), so there is no further need to check.

Hi Charles, the rule that said once you have eligibility to FSM you keep it til the end of school was only up until 31.3.22. This was a temporary provision in https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/145/article/3, but I don’t think that its been renewed. If I’m wrong, can anyone tell me? This is a real game changer: before April you could get entitlement and then safely increase your wage but now working an extra hour or two could mean losing FSM – which at up to £15 per child per week means a huge drop in income by working more.

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1143

Joined: 27 February 2019

Yes, the legislation has not been amended (yet). At one point I had intended to make a FOI request to chase this up, but didn’t get round to it.

All government guidance is clear that in practice the transitional protections are still in place. See for example the two bullet points at the top of Page 31 in the following document (which is regarding the 22-23 school year):

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1068827/2022-23_School_Census_Business_and_Technical_Specification_Version_1.1_publishing.pdf

Jana
forum member

Send message

Total Posts: 11

Joined: 18 June 2010

That’s great news Charles! Thank you. But worrying that the law hasn’t kept up with you.. CPAG p852 also is preferring to stick with advising in line with the law rather than p31 in the doc you mention, so I wonder what councils are doing in practice?  I’ve not yet had a reply from my council as to what they are doing.
A search on .gov shows advice https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools-and-local-authorities#full-publication-update-history , which says once qualified will continue to get FSM until the UC roll out is complete, which is expected to be complete by March 2022 (doc was updated June 22, so is there something we’re missing?!)
It can be a huge amount of money so clarity would be great.

Jana
forum member

Send message

Total Posts: 11

Joined: 18 June 2010

Clarification from our council: seems applications made locally go automatically to gov site which does instant calculation and its awarding it ‘until the roll out of UC is complete’ / the end of that phase of schooling. Isn’t it refreshing when the government ignores the current law for a good reason?

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 930

Joined: 24 November 2017

Jana - 24 June 2022 03:34 PM

Isn’t it refreshing when the government ignores the current law for a good reason?

Let’s party.