Section 1: Introduction to the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme
1.1 The Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2021 as amended ("the Regulations") introduce a scheme, known as the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme ("the Scheme" or "SMHSS" ), in Scotland to replace the UK Nursery Milk Scheme (NMS) using the powers in section 13 of the Social Security Act 1988. Payments will be made under the new Scheme from 1 August 2021.
1.2 The Scheme will fund a daily portion of plain fresh cow's milk (or specified alternative) and a healthy snack (fruit or vegetables) for pre-school children spending 2 hours or more in the care of a regulated day care provider and/or childminders that has registered for the Scheme.
1.3 The Scheme aims to ensure that as many pre-school children in day care as possible will receive a daily serving of milk and a healthy snack to support the development of healthy eating habits for later life.
1.4 The aim of this guidance is to support local authorities and participating day care providers to implement the Scheme effectively.
2.1 A high-level summary of the policy is attached at Annex A. The new Scheme will support Scottish Ministers intention to improve children's health and wellbeing, by establishing healthy eating habits, including regular consumption of quality dairy produce or non-dairy alternatives from an early age. It is intended that these habits will be taken forward into adolescence and throughout adult life.
2.2 This is a universal policy which applies to pre-school children, usually aged 5 and below, who are in receipt of 2 or more hours regulated childcare with a day care provider or childminder registered with the Scheme.
2.3 Payments and provision of milk and healthy snack under the SMHSS will begin from 1 August 2021. The UK NMS will cease to have effect from midnight on 31 July 2021, although transitional arrangements of claims for milk provided up to and including 31 July will remain in place for a 6-month period (see Section 4). Under the new Scheme there will not be a requirement for settings to provide proof of purchase i.e. receipts, invoices, contracts although they will be asked to retain these, in case they should be selected for monitoring by their local authority. Please see Paragraph 12 for more detail on reporting and monitoring.
2.4 The SMHSS will:
- Be delivered by local authorities who have been delegated prescribed Ministerial functions in the Regulations;
- Enable local authorities to provide direct and upfront funding for all pre-school day care providers and childminders which are registered with the Care Inspectorate; where children spend 2 or more hours per day in their care; and where the settings have registered with their local authority to be part of the Scheme;
- Provide funding for:
- the provision of 189mls (1/3 pint) (or 200mls where supplied in containers of that size only) of plain fresh cow's milk (whole milk for children 1 year and over), 189mls first infant formula for children under 12 months or to include semi-skimmed milk for children 2 years and over; OR
- where children cannot consume cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons 189mls (1/3 pint) (or 200mls where supplied in containers of that size only) of plain, fresh, goat or sheep milk should be provided; OR
- for those children who cannot consume cow's milk, goat's milk or sheep milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons, the provision of 189mls (or 200mls where supplied in containers of that size only) a specified non-dairy alternative defined as a unsweetened, liquid, calcium enriched; and
- in addition to milk or a specified alternative, a healthy snack item (a serving of fruit or vegetables) for children over six months old.
2.5 The milk and healthy snack will be provided to the child by the childcare setting. A setting may not charge parents for the provision funded under the Scheme. This is discrete from any arrangements that may be in place for additional snack provisions which are not affected by this Scheme.
2.6 These proposals build on those described in the Welfare Foods consultation published in 2018. As funding will be delivered via local authorities, Scottish Ministers have been working collaboratively with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and partners on the design and delivery of the Scheme.
3. Operation of the Scheme
3.1 Scheme Year: The Scheme will run annually from 1 August to 31 July. This period will be known as the Scheme year. The first Scheme year will run from 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022.
4.1 Scottish Ministers will provide funding for the Scheme in line with the agreement to be reached with COSLA. This will include funding for the milk and healthy snack costs and a fee to the local authority for the administration of the Scheme.
4.2 Local authorities will make upfront payments from 1 August 2021 to settings that have registered for the Scheme by the deadline set by their local authority. These payments will be determined by the local authority, which is required by the regulations to make at least one payment per 12 months.
5. Eligibility for the SMHSS
5.1 Day care settings may apply to the local authority to register for the Scheme where they:
- provide pre-school care to children for 2 hours or more per day;
- are registered with the Care Inspectorate.
5.2 The Scheme is available to all regulated settings offering pre-school day care, regardless of whether they are in receipt of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) funding. The domicile of the child is not of relevance; funding is made on the basis of the provision by settings, regardless of whether the child lives in the local authority with which the setting is registered. Local authorities will have different levels of information available to them on current systems, and may wish to have different registration requirements in place for different settings.
5.3 In order to receive the payments, settings must register to participate in the Scheme with the local authority in which the setting is located. In the case of chains, registration must be where each individual setting is located. The Regulations stipulate that the local authority may ask for any information reasonably required to support this process.
5.4 At a minimum, settings are required to opt-in to the Scheme, even where local authorities may hold all other relevant information. This is because any setting participating in the Scheme will be obliged to adhere to the Regulations, including provision of the benefit and monitoring and reporting obligations. Where a setting is run by the local authority, the local authority may confirm that it is opting in to the Scheme; this should be formally recorded.
5.5 As noted above, the Scheme is to provide funding for pre-school children who spend 2 hours or more in a day care setting which is registered both with the Care Inspectorate and with the local authority for the Scheme.
5.6 Children who attend regulated childcare settings which have not registered with their local authority to be part of the Scheme will not be eligible to receive the benefit offered through the Scheme.
5.7 Children who attend unregulated childcare settings (those not registered by the Care Inspectorate) will not be eligible to receive the benefit offered through the Scheme.
5.8 Children will not receive the benefit offered through the Scheme if they attend a setting for less than 2 hours on an individual day.
5.9 Children will only receive the benefit offered through the Scheme once per calendar day regardless how many additional hours they spend in an individual setting. Where children attend more than one setting in a day, they should still receive the benefit only once per day. Parents and providers will be responsible for discussing how this should be managed in line with existing arrangements for agreeing division of responsibility for meals. The expectation is that the first setting in which a child spends 2 hours will provide unless agreed otherwise
5.10 Children in receipt of childcare but who have commenced school or an equivalent (e.g. home-schooling) will not be eligible.