1. The EU school milk scheme allows local authorities in Scotland to claim funding to subsidise their school milk schemes. The scheme is administered by the Rural Payments Agency ( RPA).
2. Local authorities who claim under the EU milk scheme are able to receive further subsidy from the UK school milk top up scheme, also administered by the RPA.
3. The Scottish Government do not collect data on how much it costs local authorities to provide a school milk scheme, although we understand that they spend significantly more on school milk provision that they receive in subsidy under the EU and UK schemes.
4. In 2011, the European Court of Auditors evaluated the EU school milk scheme and the EU school fruit and veg scheme (Scotland, and the rest of the UK, has never participated in this scheme due to issues at UK Treasury level) and concluded that the EU school milk scheme was ineffective in its current form. The EU fruit and vegetable scheme was seen as a better model. In 2014, following public consultation, the European Commission published proposals for reforming and merging the 2 schemes under a common framework.
5. EU Member States were provided with opportunities to contribute to the reform of the scheme, with Defra leading for the UK Member State with input from the Scottish Government.
7. On 1 August the new common framework will come into force and the old EU school milk scheme arrangements will cease. EU member states are required to submit a strategy setting out how they intend to implement their schemes. Scotland's plans will be set out as part of the UK member state strategy which is due to be with the European Commission by 1 August. The UK Strategy will be made available once finalised.
8. We expect funding levels for Scotland under the new framework will remain broadly the same as in previous years and a new Scottish Statutory Instrument ( SSI) is being drafted to update references to EU law, permit recovery of payments and to allow appeals under the non- IACS appeal arrangements to continue. A copy of the current draft is attached.
9. We have considered the need for a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA) and have concluded that as there are no significant additional costs associated with these new arrangements there is no requirement to produce one.
10. We expect the application form (currently being drafted by the RPA) to remain broadly the same with minor amendments to cover specific elements of the scheme (see below). A new guidance document to support the application form is also being drafted. These will not be available until after the UK General Election on 8 June.
11. The detail of the scheme can be found in the implementing and delegated regulations (links above) however, the main points of the new framework, as described on the European Commission Website, are listed below along with a note of 'what this will mean in Scotland' below each point.
12. Main points:
Products (to be distributed to schoolchildren):
- Priority shall be given to fresh fruit and vegetables and drinking milk. In addition, Member States may distribute processed fruit and vegetables such as juices or soups, and milk products such as yogurt and cheese, to ensure a varied diet and address particular nutritional needs. Certain other milk products, such as milk-based drinks, may be allowed, but Union aid will only be granted to the milk component
Scotland - We do not participate in the fruit and veg scheme. We expect that milk will remain the focus of this scheme in Scotland. You will wish to be aware that while the scheme will continue to allow flavoured milk to be claimed for, only the plain milk component will be eligible for subsidy (e.g. providing a product which is 95% milk and 5% flavourings would result in a 5% reduction in subsidy for that product.)
- Member States may include in the framework of thematic educational measures other agricultural products, such as olives and olive oil and honey
Scotland - We expect to meet the educational measures requirement through an educational poster.
- Member States' choice of products shall be based on health and environmental considerations, seasonality, variety and availability with priority to EU products. Member States may encourage local or regional purchasing, organic products, short supply chains, environmental benefits, agricultural quality schemes.
Scotland - We expect milk to remain the focus of the scheme in Scotland. Local authorities may find ' Catering for Change - buying food sustainably in the public sector' helpful as you consider how to purchase the milk for distribution under this scheme.
- In-line with the objective of healthy eating habits, products shall contain no sweeteners and artificial flavour enhancers, and should aim to have no added sugar, salt, or fat (even if products with only limited quantities may be allowed after authorisation by the competent national health authorities)
Scotland - Products will be expected to meet the standards set out in the 'Nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008' which apply to all food and drink provided in education authority and grant maintained schools in Scotland.
- A common legal framework will reduce the administrative and organisational burden and simplify obligations: Member States will draw up only one strategy, covering a period of 6 years, and submit only one annual request for aid; synergies will be possible as regards the required monitoring and evaluation reports and, in general, as regards implementation of the scheme (distribution of products, educational measures etc.)
- The educational dimension is reinforced for a more effective achievement of the scheme's objectives. Member States shall accompany the distribution of products with educational measures in order to reconnect children to agriculture. Such measures may also concern related issues such as healthy eating habits, local food chains, organic farming, sustainable production, food waste
Scotland - This is a significant change to the scheme which requires all claimants who apply for subsidy under the EU school milk scheme to demonstrate 'educational measures' which will accompany distribution in order to strengthen the impact of the scheme. Curriculum for Excellence can clearly demonstrate that pupils already receive high quality education in relation to food and health, however, the technical details of this new educational measures requirement means that local authorities cannot rely solely on Curriculum for Excellence to claim they are compliant with the new requirement. In order to mitigate the additional administrative burden this will clearly place on local authorities, Scottish Ministers have commissioned the creation of a poster which is designed to meet the educational measures requirements. This poster will be required to be displayed wherever pupils are being provided with milk which is subsidised under the EU school milk scheme. Posters will be sent to all local authorities currently claiming under the scheme and a pdf will be shared to enable schools to print further copies should they require to do so in the future.
13. Consultees are invited to note the main points of the new common framework (detailed above) and to consider the delivery approach proposed for Scotland.
14. Subject to Scottish Parliamentary approval the SSI has to be in place for the new School Milk Scheme commencing 1 August 2017. To comply with administrative and scrutiny arrangements and to ensure the new EU regulations are reflected in domestic law a short, targeted, consultation is being held with a deadline for responses of 21 May 2017.
Please send responses via Citizen Space, by 21 May 2017, or to:
Post: Kevin MathesonLivestock Policy Manager
Email: Haylay Forbes
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House