IT’S a tradition with more than 90 years of history, but under a new ruling, free milk for schoolchildren could be facing the axe.
Following a government decision to delegate the money used for milk directly to schools, headteachers across the Fylde are facing a tough choice as to whether to keep providing milk, or to choose to use the funds elsewhere within the school environment.
It means schools will have to find a milk supplier of their own from the private sector.
Carolyn Vickers, headteacher at Lytham Hall Park School in South Park, Lytham, said: “The school is disappointed in the Government’s and Lancashire County Council’s decision to delegate the provision of milk for our children to school.
“We are going to have to look into alternatives and consult parents before deciding how to proceed.”
The cost of providing school milk in Lancashire this year is estimated to be around £1m. Of this, around a third is reclaimed in milk subsidy grants from the government, about a third comes from parental contributions, and a third is met by Lancashire County Council to subsidise the parental contribution and allow free milk for under-fives and those on free school meals.
As it stands, free milk will still be provided for those under five, but children at primary-age mainstream schools, academies, short-stay schools and special schools could miss out.
Mike Hart, Lancashire County Council’s director for school resources, said: “Arrangements for subsidising school milk have changed, as the government now requires us to give the funding directly to schools.
“For Lancashire, this comes to £351,000, and from April this will be shared out among primary schools on a per-pupil basis.
“We will no longer be distributing milk but have given schools the names of contractors who they can contract with to ensure a continued supply at a comparable price. These arrangements don’t apply to nursery schools, as the full cost of school milk for under-fives can be reclaimed in milk grants.”