Date: 4 January 2006
Scottish in-house provision means cheaper, healthier school meals
A survey of school meals across the UK has found that Scottish
schools provide cheaper school meals than elsewhere in the UK, subsidise
the cost of school meals and have signed up to the Scottish 'Hungry
for Success' initiative.
Whilst the overall UK price of a school meal has increased by around
13% since the last survey in 2001, Scottish authorities have mostly
kept rises to single figures (around 3 - 8%). Even where increases
have been higher (eg in Shetland Primary schools) the costs are
still below the average prices elsewhere in the UK.
Over half Scottish primary schools surveyed and nearly two-thirds
of secondaries charge less than the UK average (£1.48 in primary;
£1.59 in secondary). All Scottish councils surveyed said that they
subsidised the cost of schools meals to a greater or lesser extent,
and almost all surveyed provided 90% or more of the school meals
via in-house service, exceptions almost always being when PPP/PFI
contracts had included a catering contract.
One Scottish Council (Falkirk) provides free school meals to its
special schools. UNISON is concerned that disadvantaged families
who need school meals the most could be priced out, if the trend
to outsourcing school meals in PFI schools continues.
Carol Judge, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government,
said: "These figures show the value of good quality in-house provision.
Directly employed staff have the motivation and the flexibility
to take up healthy innovations, and they deliver better value than
more privatised services elsewhere.
"We are however concerned that the increasing reliance on PPP as
the vehicle for refurbishing schools threatens to increase costs
to the parent. We call on the Executive to introduce a genuine level
playing field for councils - stop subsidising PFI and increase the
subsidy on school meals until we can introduce free meals in schools
"It is well documented that healthy food increases concentration
and learning ability. UNISON wants to see free meals for all Scottish
school children so that all children have the same level playing
Notes for editors: The survey School meals - a UNISON report,
is the third report prepared for UNISON by the Labour Research Department
who surveyed local education authorities across the UK. 21 Scottish
authorities replied - 65% of the total. The full report is available
from Chris Bartter (below)
For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)