Publication - Advice and guidance

Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme: guidance for local authorities and day care settings

Published: 7 Jun 2021
Clare Haughey MSP
Children and Families Directorate
Part of:
Children and families

Statutory guidance for the operation of the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme for local authorities and participating (registered) day care settings.

31 page PDF

446.5 kB

31 page PDF

446.5 kB

Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme: guidance for local authorities and day care settings
Section 3: Information for and Responsibilities of Day Care Settings Registering for SMHSS

31 page PDF

446.5 kB

Section 3: Information for and Responsibilities of Day Care Settings Registering for SMHSS

This section to be read in conjunction with Sections 1, 2 and 4.

15. Overview

15.1 Our ambition is to ensure that as many children as possible attending eligible settings can benefit from the milk and healthy snack policy, embedding the habit of regular consumption of high-quality dairy produce (or non-dairy alternative) and fruit and vegetables from an early age. The purpose of the Scheme is to support improvement in children's health in the earliest years, which is crucial in tackling health inequalities.

15.2 The Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme will replace the existing UK NMS for regulated pre-school childcare settings in Scotland. The UK NMS will cease to operate in Scotland with effect from midnight on 31 July 2021. There will continue to be a six-month period (until end January 2022) during which you may reclaim monies for milk that has been supplied up to and including 31 July. However, milk supplied from 1 August 2021 cannot be reimbursed through the UK NMS.

15.3 The first payments under the new Scheme will be made from 1 August 2021. These are intended to enable settings to purchase what is required in order to offer the milk (or specified alternative) and healthy snack (fruit or vegetable) specified in the Scheme. It is to be noted that there is no supplementary payment for alternatives to milk: the costs of alternatives have formed part of the calculation of the indicative rates and the payments to settings should be sufficient for the purchase of what they require.

15.4 Under the new Scheme, eligible settings must register with the Local Authority, providing the required information which will include a forecast of your intended provision (see Annex F).

15.5 The Local Authority will make upfront payment(s) to enable settings to purchase the necessary products. Where settings are run directly by the Local Authority, the Local Authority will manage supply and payment arrangements in line with its existing practice.

15.6 It will be the responsibility of the setting to purchase products that meet the specification of the Scheme and to pay your suppliers with the funding provided. The list of products required or specified under the Scheme is set out at Paragraph 18. The new Scheme offers plain cow's milk as the default option on the basis of its greater nutritional content although where children cannot drink this for health, ethical or religious reasons, specified alternatives should be provided.

15.7 Settings will also be asked to provide information to the local authority, usually annually to enable them to calculate your payments. In line with existing practice, you must also retain receipts relating to the purchase of milk and healthy snacks although you will only be required to produce these in the event of monitoring by the local authority.

15.8 It is to be noted that you may not ask families to pay for these items for which you have received funding via the local authority. (This Scheme does not affect your approach to charging for items that fall outside its parameters).

16. Registering for the Scheme

16.1 To participate in the new Scheme, eligible settings must register with the relevant local authority, providing the required information. Settings which do not register with the new Scheme will not receive payments.

16.2 Each setting will need to register in the local authority in which it operates (in the case of chains, registration must be where each individual setting is located).

16.3 Eligible settings are those which:

  • are registered with Care Inspectorate;
  • where pre-school children spend 2 or more hours per day; and
  • have registered with their local authority to be part of the Scheme.

16.4 At registration, settings will be asked to provide relevant information including evidence of their registration with the Care Inspectorate, bank details and forecasts requested by the local authority that will enable them to calculate payments. Further information, including a worked example of how to estimate benefit, is outlined in Annexes D and F.

16.5 Eligible childcare settings are strongly encouraged to ensure that they register in plenty of time for the new Scheme to ensure that they can access the agreed funding to provide milk and healthy snack from 1 August 2021.

16.6 Following the initial deadline for registration for 1 August 2021, it will be for local authorities to determine subsequent deadlines for in-year registration for the Scheme. Where registration takes place after deadline for the initial payment on 1 August 2021, payment will be made within 4 weeks of registration. Funding will not normally be backdated to cover a period prior to the date of registration.

16.7 Once a setting has registered for the Scheme, it is expected that this registration will remain valid unless and until the setting confirms in writing or electronically to the local authority that it wishes to withdraw from the Scheme.

17. Funding, payments and reporting

17.1 Following registration, the Local Authority will confirm arrangements for making payments to settings. Payment should be made no less frequently than once per Scheme year.

17.2 It will be for the day care provider/ childcare setting to register for the Scheme, providing payment details and determine how best to use this funding to procure and pay for the supply of dairy milk and healthy snack or non-dairy alternative for those children who cannot consume milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons.

17.3 Funding provided as part of the Scheme can only be used for the benefit provided under the Scheme as set out in paragraph 2.4.

17.4 You may not charge families for this provision for which Scottish Ministers funding has been provided (as noted above, this does not affect your approach to charging for other items that fall outside the parameters of this Scheme).

17.5 Where a child attends two or more providers in one day, the intention is that they must have provision under the Scheme only once in the 24 hour period. It is the expectation that the first setting in which child spends 2 hours will provide the milk and healthy snack unless agreed otherwise. Providers and families may wish to agree where it is most appropriate for the SMHSS provision to be given, in line with the approach taken to agreeing meal provision. If a child has already received SMHSS by the time they attend your setting you are not required to provide this again.

17.6 It is expected that a proportionate approach will be applied to monitoring and reporting. Settings will be asked to provide information to local authorities, normally annually, possibly additionally in the first year of the Scheme, to inform national assessment of the impact of the Scheme and projected costings. Settings will also be required to keep receipts as good practice and also to inform financial assurance which will be undertaken by local authorities in line with existing practice.

17.7 Settings must inform the local authority if circumstances change significantly and it is recommended this should be done within a month of the change occurring. An example of a significant change is a change in enrolment levels +/- 10% of the stated enrolment at registration. If there is doubt about whether a change would be deemed as "significant", local authority advice should be sought. Where the changes would result in a need for additional funding, the local authority will advise on options for adjusting the payments.

17.8 Settings must also inform the local authority as soon as reasonably practicable if due to a change of circumstances (such as closure) they are no longer entitled to a payment of the scheme.

17.9 If a funded provider does not offer the benefit, local authorities may take reasonable action, working in conjunction with the relevant authorities and regulatory bodies.

18. What must be provided under the new Scheme

18.1 If you are registered and receiving funding under the new Scheme, you must provide to each pre-school child attending for 2 hours or more:

  • 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 first infant formula for children under 12 months); or
  • where children cannot consume cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons 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 200 mls 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.
  • Further information on what should be provided is set out in Annexes B and C.

18.2 It is not possible to opt-in to part of the Scheme. Settings registering for the Scheme must offer both milk (or a specified alternative) and a healthy snack to children with the exception of those under the age of 6 months who would not receive solid food. Parents may decide to decline all or part of the offer and in this situation, settings are asked to document this.

19. Milk and specified alternatives to milk

19.1 Breast milk and plain cow's milk are a good source of nutrients and are recommended to support the development of children above 12 months of age. Babies under 12 months who are not breastfed should receive first infant formula milk.

19.2 The current nutritional advice recommends that children over the age of 12 months should be offered plain cow's milk under the Scheme as the most nutritious drink. The specified alternatives should only be provided where parents advise that children cannot drink cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons. Further information on the rationale behind this approach is set out at Annex B together with a table representing the hierarchy of alternatives for children who cannot drink plain cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons.

19.3 However, where children cannot consume cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons, you must offer plain fresh goat or sheep milk (whole milk for children 1 year and over or to include semi- skimmed milk for children 2 years and over), or where for those reasons they cannot consume cow's milk, goat or sheep milk a specified unsweetened calcium-enriched non-dairy alternative (See Annexes B and C).

19.4 Where parents advise that their children should not drink any of the specified products, we would ask you to document this. In this situation children should be offered water, in line with the guidance of Setting the Table.

19.5 When offering milk, snack and the specified alternative non-dairy drinks attention should be given to the food safety implications. As a child care provider, it is your responsibility to ensure that you can provide allergen information for the food you serve and that this is accurate, consistent and verifiable. You will need to be able to identify any child with a food allergy or intolerance and provide them with food which is safe for their consumption. Allergen information should be easily accessible and readily available to children in your care and their parents/carers. When handling allergens attention should be given to cross contamination, cleaning and storage. For more information visit Food safety advice for caterers and retailers | Food Standards Scotland or Childminders | Food Standards Scotland; you could also contact your environmental health service at your local authority.

20. Healthy snack

20.1 The regulations define the healthy snack as fruit or vegetables, including loose, whole, sliced, chopped, or mixed fruit but not fruit or vegetables to which fat, salt, sugar, flavouring or any other ingredient has been added. The snack provided as part of the Scheme must meet this definition.

20.2 In line with the Setting the Table nutritional guidance and food standards for early years childcare providers in Scotland, children should have opportunities to try a variety of different foods and food should be seen as part of the learning experience and an integral part of the caring environment. Fruit and vegetable portions offered as part of the Scheme should include variety of different types, flavours and textures. Serving sizes for pre-school children are smaller than those for adults. A rule of thumb is what a young child can hold in their hand. Examples include ½ large fruit or one small fruit.

Food preparation and hygiene

20.3 A childcare provider supplying food and drink must comply with food safety, hygiene and standards regulations. When handling raw and ready to eat foods attention should be given to cooking, cleaning and storage. As a childcare provider, it is your responsibility to ensure that you can provide allergen information. For example, celery is one of the 14 allergens that must be labelled or indicated as being present in foods. Information and resources to support with the management of food safety and standards can be found on Food safety advice for caterers and retailers | Food Standards Scotland , Childminders | Food Standards Scotland or Scotland Food and Drink . If you have any questions about changes to your food provision contact your environmental health service at your local authority.

20.4 It is important to supervise young children when they are eating and provide assistance if required. Remove any stones or pips before serving. Slice, halve or chop small fruit and vegetables like cherry tomatoes and grapes. Cut large fruits into slices rather than chunks. Avoid whole nuts. Please see Care Inspectorate Good Practice Guidance for further advice on reducing the risk of choking in young children.

21. Sourcing the specified products

21.1 Buy local, buy ethical, be environmental, discuss billing arrangements

21.2 As noted at Paragraph 17.2 above, it is the responsibility of the registered setting to arrange supply of, and payment for the products to be provided under the Scheme.

21.3 It is our expectation that in most cases, settings will wish to continue supply arrangements with existing suppliers. Settings will wish to have early conversations with suppliers about the move to the new Scheme and to ensure that agreed arrangements for billing and payment are in place, replacing the previous arrangements that applied under the UK NMS. From 1 August 2021, settings on the new Scheme will receive upfront payments from local authorities and no claims may be submitted for milk supplied from this date.

21.4 As part of the Scheme and in line with our wider commitment to the Good Food Nation vision[3], Scottish Ministers encourages milk, fruit and vegetables to be sourced locally as part of our ambition to improve access to, and understanding of, the benefits of healthy local foods and ensuring sustainability of our Scottish food industry. If a setting that is not bound by a requirement to use the Scotland Excel framework is interested in which dairies operate in their area they can contact Dairy UK, the School and Nursery Milk Alliance or visit Scotland Food and Drink. There may also be opportunities to explore provision of fruit and vegetables via local community food groups.

21.5 Scottish Ministers also expect childcare settings to adhere to environmental standards and to minimise waste. We would therefore encourage settings to source products which align with these expectations and reduce the use of single-use packaging and straws and move towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternatives.