Short blog on the problems with the new UIFSM funding process

As i mentioned in my previous blog, David Laws recently announced an additional £20 million of capital funding was being made available for new projects aimed at enhancing kitchen and dining facilities.

I am increasingly concerned that this money will not get to all those schools still in need of support.

The letter was sent to LAs (note, not schools) late afternoon on October 16th.

Bids must be submitted to the DfE by close of play 20 November.

LAs have just 5 weeks to identify which schools require capital funding, to agree what needs to be done, to get quotes and costings for the new work, and to provide supporting evidence in their applications.  Anyone with knowledge of LAs, school builds, governing bodies and builders, will tell you this timeline is extremely, extremely tight.

DfE are imposing a limit of £250,000 per school, which seems rather arbitrary and unwarranted. Surely if a new hall will cost £500,000 and the school can demonstrate need and value for money, the merits of the case should be looked at?

I also have a concern that some maintained schools are not being made aware that there is new money and might not apply via their LA.

For some reason. this whole process is being done via the Local Authorities and as such relies wholly on the LAs knowing the current situation in each of its schools, their plans and all the options available. I am not sure that is a reasonable expectation to have on LAs.

Whilst they may know if a school is not currently able to offer a hot meal option, it is unlikely they will know which schools have “a solution in place which is not viable in the longer term” (i suspect many schools themselves dont know this) or if a school is experiencing “significant adverse impact on other areas of school life” that could be resolved by this fund.

Surely it is only the a school who knows if they are “bringing in 250 meals or more per day” and can “propose a solution that will improve the quality of food/increase take up”?  In most places, LAs are not the main suppliers for school meals anymore and wouldn’t necessarily be in position to hold this kind of information?

There has been very little publicity for this (that I have seen) and if a school doesnt know there is new money available, if they believed ministers who told them the previous allocation of £150 million was “the right amount” and that LAs are struggling financially,  Why would they inform the LA that they had problems? Why would they plan for extra builds?

There appears to be a major gap in the process, its bad enough relying on LAs to be ready in 5 weeks, but little thought seems to have gone into ensuring all those in need, actually apply.

Once again the allocation of UIFSM funding appears to rushed and badly thought through.

i am still at a loss as to why the government is pressuring schools to provide HOT meals? it isnt a legal requirement, they decided not at add HOT  to the Children and Families Act 2014 when they amended it, so we can only assume this pressure from the Lib Dems, a political desire to say Infant pupils are now guaranteed to get a hot, healthy meal every day at school (some are already saying that despite the fact it isn’t true)

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4 thoughts on “Short blog on the problems with the new UIFSM funding process

  1. Pingback: Latest on the free school meals fiasco (part 1) | not very jolley

  2. Pingback: My quick response to the School afood Plan letter in The Times | not very jolley

  3. Pingback: My quick response to the School afood Plan letter in The Times | not very jolley

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