Children who attend approved daycare will still receive 1/3 pint of milk each day for free. The Government hastily backtracked on earlier proposals to cut the scheme as part of its money saving initiative.
The free milk scheme, which was first introduced in 1940 to protect pregnant women and young children against wartime food and drink shortages, cast a cloud over Margaret Thatcher’s reign as education secretary. She decided to cancel the scheme in 1971, leading her to be dubbed ‘Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher’ by children and parents across the country.
“There is no evidence that it improves the health of very young children yet the cost of delivering it is increasing significantly, almost doubling in the last five years,” wrote Health Minister Anne Milton, in her proposal to cut the scheme.
“It does not provide value for money in difficult times and has become increasingly outdated.
“Abolition of the Nursery Milk scheme will be contentious and we can expect opposition from the media, parents, nurseries, childminders and the dairy sector.
“However, this should not prevent us from ending an ineffective universal measure – and this would clearly be the best time to do it given the state of public finances and the need to make savings.”
The Health Minister’s proposal met fierce opposition from both the shadow government and The Scottish National Party, who have even suggested that Anne Milton should consider her position.
For the time being at least, free milk will remain for some young children.