Consultation and Engagement
Policy officials have engaged with relevant stakeholders and consulted with others as required by statute as indicated, below-
Scottish Government officials leading on this policy sit within the Improving Health and Wellbeing Division of the Children and Families Directorate. Officials have engaged across policy directorates within the Scottish Government and more widely to develop the policy for the Scheme. Input from these policy areas helped to inform officials of existing relationships with the childcare and dairy sectors and also the internal processes required in order to deliver the Scheme. In particular officials have engaged substantively with the following areas and bodies:
- Children and Families Directorate
- Early Learning and Childcare Directorate
- Population Health Directorate
- Learning Directorate
- Health Finance Directorate
- Agriculture and Rural Development Directorate
- Parliament and Legislation Unit
- Legal Services Directorate
External to Scottish Government;
- Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (Care Inspectorate)
- Department of Health and Social Care, UK Government
- Welsh Assembly - required to comply with statutory requirement under section 13(2) of the 1988 Act even though the Welsh Assembly has no direct material interest in the Scheme. The Welsh Assembly confirmed after verbal consultation, no further consultation was required for the purposes of complying with section 13 (2) of the 1988 Act.
- Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Article 36 (4) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The Scottish Government was not required to undergo further public consultation on this Scheme given there was no statutory obligation to do so given the conclusion of the public consultation on Welfare Foods which ran from 5 April to 28 June 2018. The consultation included proposals to replace the UK NMS in Scotland with a new Scottish Scheme which would increase the age of eligibility from under 5 years to include 5 year olds; and offer a daily healthy snack item (a portion of fresh fruit or vegetables). It was proposed this be delivered as part of ELC funded provision, complementing the free meal offer. Provision to unfunded providers was also considered.
147 consultation responses were received where the majority of individual responses (58%) were uncategorised, but there were also individual responses from: medical or healthcare professionals (21%); parents or carers (5%); and childminders (4%). Organisational responses included responses from: third sector or community organisations (28%); NHS Boards (22%); local authorities (18%); representative bodies for professionals (6%); and retailers including retailers' representative bodies (4%).
The consultation and analysis papers are available on the Scottish Government's website: https://www.gov.scot/publications/welfare-foods-consultation-meeting-needs-children-families-scotland/
90% of respondents agreed with the proposal to provide free milk to all children in funded ELC provision from 2020, with many respondents pointing out that dairy-free alternatives should also be available.
96% of respondents agreed with the proposal to provide a healthy snack to all children in funded ELC provision from 2020. Clarification was sought by many respondents on what constituted a 'healthy snack', and some thought it should be restricted to a portion of fruit or vegetables.
The consultation did not explicitly ask whether respondents were in favour of the proposal to provide free milk outwith the funded ELC entitlement; rather, it asked how this may be done. However, from the answers to this question it could be inferred that a large majority of respondents (approximately three quarters) were in favour of this proposal. 20% did not express a clear view in favour or against. It was suggested that this could be administered through: a voucher or smartcard, direct payments to childcare providers (similar to the current UK Nursery Milk System), or by embedding milk for non-funded ELC provision in the wider procurement of milk for childcare providers within each local authority.
A large majority of respondents (83%) were also in favour of providing a healthy snack to children outwith funded ELC provision. The same mechanisms for the provision of milk outwith funded ELC provision were suggested.
Consideration of Responses
As a result of the consultation responses, Scottish Ministers decided to progress plans for a Scheme that would:
- Provide milk through funded ELC provision, with funding agreed with local authorities;
- Also include non-funded registered pre-school day care and childminding settings;
- Include the provision of a healthy snack item (a portion of fresh fruit or vegetables);
- Take account of the needs of children who cannot consume cow's milk due medical, ethical or religious reasons.
- expand the eligible cohort of children from children age 4 and under, to include all pre-school age children
Some respondents offered views on the administration of the Scheme for settings providing non-funded provision. An overriding theme was that it should be as non-bureaucratic and administratively simple as possible. Scottish Government considered the various options for delivering the Scheme, and concluded that streamlining with existing systems for the provision of ELC would best achieve these objectives. As such, it has progressed discussions with COSLA to develop proposals that would achieve this objective. The Scottish Government has continued to engage with several public stakeholders and considered stakeholder information and comments in policy development.
As well as engaging with a range of third sector and public sector organisations, Scottish Government has engaged with the following businesses representatives.
- National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA),
- Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA)
- Cool Milk
- Early Years Scotland (EYS)
- Graham's Family Dairy
- Mill's Milk
- McQueen's Dairies
- Müller Milk & Ingredients
- Dairy UK
- National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS)
- School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA)