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School and Nursery Milk Alliance wins landmark appeal against the Scottish Government over nursery provision

The School and Nursery Milk Alliance has succeeded in its landmark action against the Scottish Government in a judicial review at the Court Of Session, in respect of the new Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme.

The new scheme aims to provide a free portion of milk and a healthy snack to pre-school children across Scotland. The Alliance had expressed concerns that the new scheme had, albeit unintentionally, left many nurseries and childminders out of pocket, potentially causing children to miss out on their free milk entitlement – the exact opposite of the Scheme’s intention.

The judge, Lord Braid, found in favour of the Alliance, concluding that the government did not undertake a proper consultation on a key aspect of the new scheme, namely the actual funding per child per day, and also that the way that the funding rates were decided was irrational.

Jon Thornes, Chairman of the School and Nursery Milk Alliance, commented: “We are very pleased with the court’s ruling and we now look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme works well for all Early Years settings, so that as many children as possible can enjoy their free milk every day. We were disappointed by the lack of consultation with key parties such as ourselves, as we felt that we could have helped to ensure that the scheme would work for all settings from the outset. The scheme’s intentions were excellent and it can still be a great success, but we know that many settings including smaller, rural and/or privately-owned settings are currently unable to obtain their milk in a way that suits their needs, and many are also faced with additional cost and administrative burdens. We also know that the new scheme has resulted in significant loss of business for small local suppliers of Scottish milk, as many settings have been obliged to use supermarket chains or large LA-contracted suppliers. We trust that the court’s ruling will now result in an improved scheme for all settings. We will continue our mission to ensure that all children have fair access to milk in schools and Early Years setting across the UK, and we are delighted to note that the Scottish Government has recently committed to introduce a new school milk scheme in August 2023 to provide free morning milk for all primary school children, and also potentially to extend this to secondary schools – we look forward to working with the government to ensure that the scheme is implemented smoothly to maximise the number of children that benefit from free milk every day”.

Elaine Motion, Chairman of law firm Balfour + Manson who represented the School and Nursery Milk Alliance, commented: “This is very welcome news. As we all know, milk and healthy snacks provide excellent nutritional benefits for the early years of nursery and schooling. Having already committed to the scheme, The Scottish Government now have the chance to ensure every child will feel the benefit from this decision made regarding this landmark judgement.”