Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme: Implementation and Operation Group minutes: June 2023

Minutes from the meeting held on 20 June 2023.


  • Scottish Government (SG) (Chair) (Minutes)
  • National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
  • Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA)
  • ASSIST Facilities Management
  • Scotland Excel
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Cool Milk & School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA)
  • McQueens Dairies
  • Public Health Scotland
  • Muller Milk and Ingredients


  • School and Nursery Milk Alliance (SNMA)
  • ASSIST Facilities Management
  • Scottish Government, Early Learning and Childcare (ELC)
  • ADES Resource Network
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • National Farming Union of Scotland (NFUS)

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 (Meeting 5) and for them to be published on the SG website. (Action 1)

The Chair updated the group on the actions from the previous meeting (Meeting 5)

Updates from members

The Chair introduced the Chief Executive of the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) who joined the meeting to update the group on recent work undertaken by SCMA in relation to the childminding sector.

The Chief Executive of SCMA provided an update on work it has been undertaking over the last 3-4 years with the childminding workforce and the potential impact of ELC expansion.

During the update, SCMA highlighted that the childminding workforce, which has been in decline in recent years, struggles with administrative burdens. Prior to moving to the SMHSS, the view of the childminding sector was to maintain a claims based funding model akin to that used under the previous UK Nursery Milk Scheme. SCMA explained that an online payment system that can be operated from a mobile phone is the most beneficial for childminders.

SCMA highlighted that under the SMHSS, childminders have experienced an increase in administration, especially around reconciliation, which can be seen in the low uptake currently at around 22% after two years of the Scheme going live. SCMA discussed work they are undertaking with Glasgow City Council (GCC) to support childminders to participate in the SMHSS.

The Chair thanked SCMA for the information and invited SCMA to share their evaluation of the work currently underway to support uptake of the SMHSS by childminders once completed. (Action 2).

The Chair invited comments from members of the IOG. ADES acknowledged the information provided by SCMA and explained Local Authorities (LAs) will look to minimise bureaucracy wherever possible. ADES highlighted that it is challenging that grant funding is linked to a financial year and not the academic year. ADES acknowledged the autonomy LAs have in how they administer SMHSS for their area, particularly around audit and reconciliation and intimated that common practice in these areas could be considered within the ADES Resource Group, working with members of the group as necessary.

SCMA shared that they have been working with SG ELC colleagues to develop a Good Practice Guidance for LAs who are working with childminders. It was discussed that the guidance could be updated to include reference to the SMHSS. The Chair welcomed this and agreed that this would be beneficial, particularly following the impending data collection exercise.

The Chair highlighted that SG and IOG recognise the decrease in childminders and want to increase childminder participation in the SMHSS. The Chair asked for a focused meeting to be set up between SCMA and SG to hear more about the GCC pilot exercise. (Action 3)

ADES provided an update on LA financial pressures. ADES acknowledged that the national flat rate of 58.2p has not being increased and highlighted a number of LAs have reported overspends.

The Chair confirmed that the reconciliation exercise carried out with LAs in April 2023 will address any overspends and will also inform LA financial allocations. The Chair clarified that a requirement, following the judicial review, is for the 58.2p national rate to remain in place until a new or revised scheme has been developed and that the data collection exercise will inform Ministers’ considerations on future options for the scheme.

Update on data collection exercise

SG reminded the group that the aim of the data collection exercise is to inform the SMHSS going forward by gaining a better understanding of costs faced by settings and LAs in providing milk, non-dairy alternatives and healthy snacks.

Action 2 from Meeting 5 of the IOG on 8 March 2023, was to share the Invitation to Tender with the group once it was live but due to commercial sensitives this has not been possible. It was highlighted that the indicative questions were shared with the group at meeting 4 (paper 5) and their feedback had been included.

It is anticipated that the data collection exercise will commence at the end of August 2023 and SG are hoping that the work will conclude December/January [Addendum – following the meeting, the procurement exercise was delayed slightly and it is now expected to end in Feb/March]. Both a summary and a main report on the findings will be developed by the successful procured supplier.

SG are also working on a Data Protection Impact Assessment regarding the data collection exercise and will seek feedback/input on this from the group once a draft version is available to share. (Action 4)

The Chair confirmed that a further update on the progress of the data collection exercise will be provided at the next IOG meeting. (Action 5)

Update on the reconciliation exercise

SG reiterated that the purpose of the reconciliation exercise was to identify actual expenditure incurred by local authorities in delivering the SMHSS and that the exercise will inform budget for financial year 2023-24, as well as providing the latest uptake to the Scheme.

The reconciliation exercise identified a number of LAs who required additional funding and a number of LAs with underspends. ADES informed the group that some LAs had to amend their funding practices to account for funding being for the financial year and not the academic year.

Update on registration figures as at 1 April 2023 (Paper 3)

SG explained that the purpose of the registration data paper is to provide an overview of the most recent registration data of child care settings and children who are registered on the Scheme as at 1 April 2023 across all 32 LAs. It also provides a comparison of registration data against previous years (1 August 2021 – 1 April 2023). The registration data was collected as part of the reconciliation exercise.

As of 1 April 2023, there were 140,834 children and 3,354 childcare settings registered to the SMHSS. The Chair highlighted that the April 2023 data is based on actual year end data with April 2022 based on estimate data which was gathered in February/March 2022.

The Chair highlighted that the registration data showed variations between April and August of each year. Feedback from local authorities has suggested that August typically has the lowest ELC entitlement as the older children have just moved to primary school.

Update on Care Inspectorate Annual Returns 2022 (Papers 4 & 5)

SG gave an update on the Care Inspectorate (CI) Annual Returns Summary for 2022 and explained that the full paper can be seen in paper 4. This is the second report from the CI, with the previous being for 2021. A comparison paper was also provided in paper 5 which compares the data for 2022 against 2021 data.

A comparison between the 2022 CI Annual Return data and 1 April 2023 LA Returns data collected on the number of childcare settings taking part in the Scheme shows a small difference, possibly due to the fact that not all settings returned data to the CI. The 1 April 2023 LA data is 3,354 with the CI Annual Return data at 3,211.

Feedback from IOG members on the scheme in 22/23

The Chair invited feedback/comments from the IOG. No comments were received.

Any other business

The Chair discussed widening membership of the IOG to include representation from both a national parental organisation, as well as non-dairy alternative organisation and invited feedback from the group.

ADES agreed that it would be beneficial to review membership and this should be done with regard to the IOG’s ‘Terms of Reference’ and what the role of the IOG is as we continue to develop the SMHSS. (Action 6)

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held in Sept/Oct 2023. (Action 7)

Items and actions

Action 1: SG to publish minutes from meeting 5 on the Scottish Government website.

Action 2:  SCMA to share evaluation results from the GCC model in relation to the SMHSS once they become available.

Action 3: SG to set up a meeting between SCMA and SG to discuss the GCC pilot exercise in more detail.

Action 4: SG to share the Data Protection Impact Assessment relating the data collection exercise with the IOG for feedback/input once a draft version is completed.

Action 5: SG to provide update on the progress of the data collection exercise at meeting 7 of the IOG.

Action 6: SG to review Terms of Reference and Membership for discussion at meeting 7 of the IOG.

Action 7: SG to set up next IOG meeting for Sept/Oct 2023.

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