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Nursery Milk Statement, 27/03/14 [E/S/W]

Written Statement in the House of Commons on 27 March 2014 by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Daniel Poulter, on Next Steps for Nursery Milk.

He said:

"The purpose of the consultation was to explore three different options for reforming the scheme: looking at where we can make it more efficient and improve its value for money, while ensuring that all children under five attending a child care setting for more than two hours a day continue to receive free milk.

Of the options for changing the scheme, 53% of respondents ranked the direct supply option as their first preference compared to 39% for the price capping option. Only 16% preferred the e-voucher option.

The nursery milk scheme has been running since the 1940s. The scheme currently funds free milk for around 1.5 million children under five years old in 55,000 child care settings throughout Great Britain. The Government remain fully committed to the nursery milk scheme, and to continuing to supply milk to children under five years old.

In recent years, the prices claimed for milk purchased under the scheme have risen significantly, with a corresponding increase in the total cost of the scheme from 27 million in 2007-08 to 61 million in 2012-13. This trend looks likely to continue with costs potentially rising to 80 million by 2015-16. The main reason for the increasing costs of the scheme has resulted from some suppliers of nursery milk charging as much as 92p per pint of milk when the average shop price is 49p per pint.

The direct supply option is the best way forward for the scheme as it provides best value for money to the taxpayer. Under direct supply, the scheme will be delivered with an estimated saving of 36 million per year, while providing only fresh milk to all eligible children in registered child care or early years settings.

We will engage with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while developing the new scheme and encourage SMEs to consider bidding as part of a consortia of potential suppliers and/or as sub-contractors working with larger organisations to supply and deliver nursery milk".

For full details see the House of Commons Hansard 27 March 2014 which is available from the UK Parliament website.

Further Information

House of Commons Hansard 27 March 2014