LACA (Local Authority Caterers Association) position RE. Loss of ring-fencing for the School Lunch Grant (SLG) from April 2011
06/04/2011 - 23:00

As stated at the time of the Comprehensive Spending Review last October, LACA (the Local Authority Caterers Association) was pleased to learn of the Government's intention to continue with the School Lunch Grant (SLG) and that it was amongst the revenue grants to be included in the schools baseline funding list - albeit aggregated.

The potential loss of the School Lunch Grant's 'ring-fencing' status had already been anticipated, even before the Coalition Government had taken power.  The previous government had conducted consultation into the possibility of no longer ring-fencing this particular grant, if it was continued into the future.  The new incoming Government reviewed this assessment and saw no reason to deviate from the direction the previous Labour Government had intended to take.

Commenting on the removal of the School Lunch Grant ring-fencing status from April 2011, Sandra Russell, National Chairman of LACA says:

"As the ring-fencing status of the SLG has only just been removed, it is too early to speculate about the possible outcomes of the decision. The impact of the loss of ring-fencing status, coupled with Local Government response to the economic situation nationally, has yet to be assessed and early conjecture about overall school meal price rises at this stage is both unwise and unhelpful.

LACA will continue to work with schools and Local Authorities to emphasise the importance of school meals to the development of young people and how it should form part of the whole school approach to their education - if we are nationally to tackle the obesity crisis and decrease NHS costs in the longer term.

Considerable efforts should be made to encourage Head Teachers and School Governing Bodies to channel the School Lunch Grant towards supporting the provision of school meals, as originally designated.

We should also bear in mind that the cost of delivering school meal services will vary, dependent upon a number of factors - including the number of pupils/students on individual school rolls, the urban or rural location of schools and demographic issues such as the number of free schools meals, etc.
In some cases, delegated funding – including the School Lunch Grant -  may not (together with income from paid meals) cover all the costs of individual school sites; as a result this could lead to price increases on a local or area/geographic basis.

Over the next three months, LACA will be seeking to obtain feedback from its Membership in order to assess the status of the school meals service generally together with the impact upon prices for the meals.

It is important to advocate to parents that school meals still continue to represent very good value for money, particularly when weighed against their nutritional and educational benefits for children and young people".