Farming and food grants and payments – guidance

Eligibility for the school milk subsidy scheme

Find out who is eligible to apply for school milk subsidies, the products covered by the scheme and how much can be claimed.

The EU school milk subsidy scheme encourages children to develop a lifelong habit of consuming milk and milk products.

It does this by subsidising the cost of milk and yoghurt products for school children in the UK so that it can be sold to them at a lower price.

Who is eligible for subsidised products

Claims can be made by schools, local authorities, suppliers or organisations set up for this purpose.

In England, Scotland and Wales the school milk subsidy scheme is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

Within these areas all pre-school children who are under 5 and in day care are eligible for free milk. This is organised by Nursery Milk Reimbursement Unit.

Pupils regularly attending Ofsted-registered pre-school, nursery, primary or secondary school are eligible for subsidised milk. Pupils regularly attending Ofsted-registered primary or secondary school are also eligible for subsidised milk products and yoghurt.

Additionally, in Wales, children in Key Stage 1 are eligible for free milk, funded by the Welsh Assembly government.

Not covered by the scheme

The scheme does not cover:

  • children in pre-school establishments where the milk has been fully reimbursed under the Nursery Milk Scheme
  • pupils in further education colleges
  • pupils in higher education colleges or universities
  • pupils in holiday camps
  • boarding pupils on days when they’re not receiving formal education

You can make claims for ‘rising fives’ in primary education reception classes either through the Nursery Milk Scheme or as part of your RPA claim.

What products are eligible?

The following products from cows, goats and sheep are eligible for the subsidy:

  • whole or semi-skimmed heat-treated milk
  • whole or semi-skimmed heat-treated flavoured milk, containing at least 90% by weight of milk and a maximum of 7% added sugar and/or honey
  • whole or semi-skimmed plain yoghurt
  • lactose free or lactose reduced milk
  • UHT milk

Subsidised products must be distributed to pupils as a:

  • mid-morning or afternoon drink
  • a drink with a meal
  • a separately identifiable part of a meal (so the milk must retain its identity and not be altered or incorporated as an ingredient)

It may not be used in the preparation of meals.

Not covered by the scheme

The following products aren’t eligible for the subsidy:

  • milk other than from cows, goats or sheep; for example, soya or rice milk
  • powdered or reconstituted milk
  • products used as ingredients in the preparation of meals where milk has lost its identity (eg custard, mashed potato or rice pudding)
  • products that have been consumed by staff or visitors
  • products that have been delivered but disposed of (rather than actually consumed by eligible pupils)
  • products that have been consumed on non-educational days (eg Sundays for boarding school pupils)
  • products containing more than of 5mg of added fluorine per kg (if added as sodium fluoride this equates to 11mg of sodium fluoride per kg)

Products must also comply with Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 853/2004, which include the rules on preparing the products in an approved establishment and the identification markings the products must have.

How much milk can be claimed

The maximum volume of milk that can be claimed is 250ml per child per day.

To calculate your maximum entitlement, see Calculate your school milk subsidy.

How much aid can be claimed

To find out the subsidy rates and how much you’ll be entitled to claim, see Calculate your school milk subsidy.

Relevant regulations

Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council - Articles 22, 26 to 28, and 217

Council Regulation (EU) No 1370/2013 - Article 6

Commission Regulation (EC) No 657/2008 laying down detailed rules for applying Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards Community aid for supplying milk and certain milk products to pupils in educational establishments

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of The European Parliament and of The Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs

Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of The European Parliament and of The Council laying down specific hygiene rules for the hygiene of foodstuffs

The Milk and Milk Products (Pupils in Educational Establishments) (England) Regulations 2008 No. 2072 as amended by the Single Common Market Organisation (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2013 No. 3235

The School Milk (Wales) Regulations 2008 No. 2141(W. 190) as amended by the School Milk (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 No. 108 (W.21) and by the Single Common Market Organisation (Consequential Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2013 No. 3270 (W. 320)

The Milk and Milk Products (Pupils in Educational Establishments) (Scotland) Regulations 2001 No. 162 as amended by the Milk and Milk Products (Pupils in Educational Establishments) (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 2011/82 and by the Single Common Market Organisation (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2013/3235