European School Milk Scheme
We contacted Defra last month to express our concerns that the delay to the planned consultation on the post-August 2017 European School milk scheme will leave schools with little time to prepare, and request that they either communicate the likely changes to schools immediately, or postpone the implementation of the changes. This month, Defra officials responded that whilst they are limited in what they can share due to the election, they recognised that claimants need time to understand the changes that are being made to the scheme. To this end, they supplied a letter being issued by the Rural Payments Agency to all claimants in England highlighting these changes. These included:
    
  • Reductions in subsidy for late claims: Under the new rules, if the time limit is exceeded by less than 60 calendar days, the subsidy will be reduced by:
    - 5% if the time limit is exceeded by 1 to 30 calendar days;
    - 10% if the time limit is exceeded by 31 to 60 calendar days.
    If the time limit is exceeded by more than 60 calendar days, the subsidy will be reduced by 1% per each additional.

  • New administrative penalties: where scheme rules are not complied with, claimants will need to pay an administrative penalty equal to the difference between the amount initially claimed and that to which they are entitled, in addition to the recovery of the amount unduly paid.

  • Flavoured milk: from August 2017, only the milk component of flavoured milk will be eligible for subsidy.
  
Defra added that they will be in contact with us again after the election with a copy of the national scheme strategy and copies of new forms. We will submit evidence to the consultation that will accompany this strategy once it is launched.

Additionally, both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have this month run consultations on the implementation of the new European School Milk Scheme. The Alliance responded to both consultations with submissions that focused on the need for changes to the schemes to be kept to a minimum and the urgency of considering new plans for a post-Brexit programme. We also provided guidance on what should feature in the proposed educational material. The Northern Ireland government will be launching a similar consultation shortly to which we will also submit evidence.
  

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