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Tuesday, 22 November 2011 13:13

Nursery Milk under review

Katy Morton, 22 November 2011, 12:12pm
The Government is to carry out a review of the free milk scheme for nursery children over fears of escalating costs to tax payers.
Mace Montessori in Camden
The announcement follows an internal Department of Health (DOH) audit that found ‘middlemen’, who act as a go-between for nurseries and arrange for dairies to deliver milk to settings and recover the cost from the Government, are claiming around double the amount of money they should be.
All under-fives attending nursery for two or more hours a day are entitled to 189ml of milk.
It is thought that a loophole in the system means that the Government is obliged to pay back the cost of nursery milk, regardless of the costs.
A spokesperson for the DOH said, ‘We are looking at how the free nursery milk scheme can deliver better value for money, because we are very concerned about the escalating costs.
‘One thing is clear though, the scheme will continue and every child will receive free nursery milk.’
John Sedgwick, managing director of Cool Milk, a school milk supplier, which works in partnership with over 70 local authorities to deliver free milk to under fives, said, ‘We recognise that in the present economic climate the Government has to find cost efficiencies where they can. However, we are confident that Cool Milk offers excellent value for taxpayers’ money in providing a service that is free to schools and nurseries.
‘School milk can be an administrative burden for schools, with money to collect from parents, deliveries to arrange and subsidy claims to prepare for the local authority. That’s why we partner with local authorities throughout the UK to deliver a service that makes providing school milk easier.
‘Any attempt to make savings by introducing nationally agreed contracts with dairies would simply shift this administrative burden onto the schools and nurseries themselves.
‘However, we welcome the Government’s announcement of a review into the scheme and we look forward to working with the Department of Health to investigate ways of making the present system more cost efficient.’