Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme - Implementation and Operation Group minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 27 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government, Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (Chair) (SG)
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA)
  • McQueens Dairies
  • Childminding Association (SCMA)
  • Scotland Excel
  • ASSIST Facilities Management
  • National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS)
  • Muller Milk and Ingredients


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
  • Public Health Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and members introduced themselves.

Minutes and actions from previous meeting

The group were content with the minutes from the previous meeting.

Care Inspectorate annual return 2021

SG provided a summary of the Care Inspectorates (CI) Annual Return 2021 regarding data collected on the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (SMHSS).

As of 31 December 2021, just over 7,500 day care of children and childminding services were registered with the Care Inspectorate. The vast majority who completed the CI Annual Return 2021, responded to the questions regarding SMHSS. Just under half of these services reported that they received SMHSS funding with a lower proportion of childminders receiving funding than Day Care of children services.

Overall, the majority of services who receive funding for the SMHSS reported that it worked well. Fewer childminders that received SMHSS funding reported that the scheme worked well than day care of children services.

There was a higher proportion of services who received funding in rural areas than in urban areas and small towns. The proportion of services that reported they received funding from the SMHSS, by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020, was higher in most deprived areas and lower in least deprived areas.

Milk was mainly procured either direct from a dairy, from the shop or via local authority delivery. A smaller number was procured through milk agents or by other means. Childminding services mainly received milk purchased from the shop with a smaller proportion procuring direct from a dairy or milk agent. Day care of children services mainly received milk direct from a dairy, local authority delivery or they purchased it from the shop. A small proportion of settings procured milk though milk agents.

Almost half of non-dairy alternatives were purchased from the shop, with smaller proportions purchased through local authority delivery, direct from a dairy or though milk agents. Just over a quarter of services did not require non-dairy alternatives (less than 200 settings).

A large majority of healthy snacks were purchased from the shop with smaller proportions procured via local authority delivery. The minority procured healthy snacks either by direct from a dairy, through milk agents or by other means.

The main reasons reported for not participating in the SMHSS varied by setting type. For childminders, the main reason for not receiving funding for the scheme was that either they did not want to participate and secondly they were supplying milk and snack in an alternative way. The main reason for day care of children services not to receive funding for the scheme was that they were supplying milk and snack in an alternative way or that they did not know about the scheme.

The chair explained that the data was based on the scheme as launched in August 2021. The interim scheme from April 2022 offers a higher national combined flat rate for milk, specified non-dairy alternatives and healthy snack to allow settings flexibility to use the funds to suit local needs. The CI information acts as a useful base line to measure the impact of the scheme moving forward.

McQueen's Dairies asked for clarification as to how many of the settings represented in the CI report were those who felt the scheme worked well. SG confirmed that it represented 2,842 of 3,306 services.

McQueen’s expressed some surprise at the results as the data do not reflect feedback they received from clients (particularly childminder settings) about the scheme as launched on 1 August 2021.

ASSIST and SCMA highlighted they felt there was confusion regarding the interim national flat rate. SG offered clarification that the order from the courts was that the full flat rate of 58.2p must be (and is) available to every eligible child each day they come to a participating early learning and childcare setting. SG will ensure this message is made clear to local authorities. (action 1)

The Chair highlighted that the SMHSS regulations give LA’s the ability to audit settings. As part of good records keeping, childcare settings are required keep a copy of receipts so they are able to evidence how the funding is being used to purchase milk, specified non-dairy alternatives and healthy snack, if required.

Muller Milk and Ingredients highlighted that the impact of the inflation rate has increased milk by 11p per litre since the interim flat rate was agreed. They expect that this will rise by a further 4p by the end of the year.

SCMA enquired if a setting is audited in the interim scheme, would SG/LA’s claw unspent money back? SG explained that it is up to the LA’s on how they administer the scheme. LA’s can use a number of payment tranches across the year which could aid them to balance the payments that are going out. COSLA reiterated this.

NFUS enquired if there was going to be more regular data collection by SG/ local authorities with participating settings to get more fluid information about the scheme. SG agreed to discuss this with COSLA and ADES but highlighted that they want to avoid additional administration burden on LA’s/ childcare settings. The next reconciliation is due in January 2023. The next CI report will possibly be in April 2023. SG to discuss a possible data collection exercise on the interim scheme with COSLA and ADES. (action 2)

Member updates

There were no member updates.

Consultation and data collection

The Chair explained that following the judicial review SG intended to carry out a data collection exercise and public consultation throughout 2022/2023 to inform any potential revisions to the scheme.

The group considered paper 4 – draft consultation questions which included a discussion around possible solutions to reducing general administration of the scheme for settings (childminders in particular). A query was raised about third party administration and registration to the scheme e.g. a milk agent acting on behalf of a childminder. SG to consider this further (action 3)

The group considered paper 5 - draft data collection/analysis. Muller Milk and Ingredients and SNMA suggested adding in ‘wholesalers’, ‘caterers’ and ‘online’ to the list of options for procurement noting that some settings/respondents might not know. Muller Milk and Ingredients also suggested that changing the description for receiving milk to ‘direct from a dairy’ would make it clearer to potential respondents. NFUS suggested including the measurement of procuring the milk i.e. litres or millilitres. The Chair thanked the group for their feedback. SG will broaden out scope of the places to procure milk, specified non-dairy alternatives and healthy snacks. SG will adjust questionnaire wording accordingly as per feedback from the group. (action 4)

The Chair outlined that the next step is to issue advice to Minsters on proposals.

Communications materials

The group revisited the draft communications material for parents and carers, children and settings. ASSIST highlighted that the area regarding free school meals should be removed to avoid confusion. NFUS questioned the use of the word “milk” for plant based drinks.

The Chair invited SG colleagues to now finalise versions of the materials that members could utilise to further promote the scheme. (action 5)

Terms of reference

The Group considered and agreed paper 9 - terms of reference containing proposed amendments to reflect ongoing work to develop a revised scheme.

SG highlighted that the Group’s webpage will be updated to reflect the revised terms of reference.

Any other business

No other business was discussed.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held in September 2022.

Summary of actions

  • action 1: SG to issue urgent communications to LA’s clarifying that the full flat rate of 58.2 p should be administered for every eligible child
  • action 2: SG to discuss a possible data collection exercise on the interim scheme with COSLA and ADES
  • action 3: SG to consider adding a further question to the consultation on the ability of a 3rd party to represent on behalf a setting
  • action 4: SG to amend the questionnaire and data collection proposal based on feedback from the Group
  • action 5: SG to finalise the communication materials and share with members
Back to top