In 2009-10, the number of portions funded was 218 million. In 2010-11 it was 262 million, and in 2011-12 it was 271 million. Of course, children do not necessarily attend nursery five days a week, so the number of portions does not equate to the number of children, so, say, 1 million children attending full- time or 2 million attending 2.5 days a week.
In Hull the nursery milk scheme has never been more needed, at a time when poverty is increasing and food banks are expanding. Will the Minister guarantee that no child who currently receives nursery school milk will lose out after the results of the consultation have been published?
As the hon. Lady will know, we are consulting on a range of options to modernise the operation of the scheme. The cost rose to £53 million in 2010-11, and is due to rise to about £67 million in 2012-13. Given those massive increases, we need to look at the scheme’s operation to ensure that we are getting good value for money.
10. Does the Minister accept that the cost may well have risen because more children are receiving free milk? Because the consultation is being launched during the school holidays, it will be extremely difficult for schools to respond. If this is a genuine consultation which aims to ensure that milk reaches the children who need it, will the Minister consider extending the deadline into September and October? (117287)
The consultation has been running for some time now, and I should have thought that local authorities in particular would have had plenty of time in which to respond. Given that 8,962 settings are paying more than 90p for a pint, which is an outrageous amount, it is extremely important for us to hear from everyone. If the hon. Lady feels that there has been any problem with responses to the consultation and would like to drop me a line, I shall be happy to respond.