Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme (SMHSS)

We are keen to ensure that children in childcare settings continue to receive milk and are not disadvantaged by the transition from the previous scheme which will no longer operate in Scotland from 31 July 2021.

You are asked to complete the online registration form, giving your best estimate of the number of milk and snack servings you would expect to provide in the year to end 31 July to enable us to help to calculate payments.

We would recommend that you base this on your existing catering forecasts and the number of children expected to attend each day, ie if you are a nursery with 80 places we might expect to see you apply for between 80-160 servings per day.

In providing the annual figure, please also consider if there are weeks when your facility is closed and you would not be providing milk and healthy snack.

The data you provide will be the baseline data that we use to calculate payments. You are asked to notify us of any significant change (defined as a change of 10% or more) within a month. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The Scottish Milk and Health Snack Scheme (SMHSS) will fund a daily portion of plain fresh cow's milk (or specified alternative) and a healthy snack (fruit or vegetables) for pre-school children spending two hours or more in the care of a regulated day care provider and/or childminders that have registered for the SMHSS.

SMHSS will replace the current UK Nursery Milk Scheme from 1 August 2021.

Day care settings and childminders may apply to East Ayrshire Council (EAC) to register for the SMHSS if:

  • registered with the Care Inspectorate
  • they provide childcare for two hours or more per day

No. The Scheme is available to all regulated childcare settings offering pre-school day care or childminding regardless of whether they are in receipt of ELC funding.

No. Only children:

  • from birth to not yet attending primary school and
  • who attend regulated childcare settings or childminders who have registered with East Ayrshire Council to be part of SMHSS

will be eligible to receive the benefit offered.

No. Settings not registered by the Care Inspectorate will not be eligible to receive the benefit offered.

Local authorities will deliver and administer the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Following the recommendation of the Settlement and Distribution Group, the Scottish Government agreed a Local Serving Rate for East Ayrshire Council, for year one of the SMHSS (1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022):

  • 19.2p per serving of milk or specified alternative
  • 17.1p per serving of healthy snack (fruit or vegetable)

Total Local Serving Rate = 36.3p per serving.

The rate has been reviewed and as of 1 April 2022, a national interim combined rate of 58.2p for milk, non-dairy alternatives and a healthy snack for every eligible child will be in place whilst further long term action to review the Scheme is taken forward

The childcare provider is responsible for procuring and paying for the supply of healthy snacks and dairy milk or non-dairy alternative for those children who cannot consume cow's milk for medical, ethical or religious reasons.

Children need to attend the setting for two hours or more on an individual day.

Children will only receive the benefit offered through the SMHSS once per calendar day regardless how many additional hours they spend in an individual setting.

Where children attend more than one setting in a day, they should only receive the benefit once per calendar day.

It is proposed that the first setting in which child spends two hours will provide the milk and healthy snack unless agreed otherwise. Providers and families may wish to agree where it is most appropriate for the SMHSS provision to be given, in line with the approach taken to agreeing meal provision.

If a child has already received SMHSS by the time they attend your childcare setting you are not required to provide this again.

Yes. Childcare settings should retain proof of purchase, ie receipts, invoices, contracts in case they should be selected for monitoring by EAC.

SMHSS will run annually from 1 August to 31 July. This period will be known as the Scheme year. The first Scheme year will run from 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022.

No. A childcare setting may not charge parents for the milk and healthy snack funded under the SMHSS.

This is separate from any arrangements that a childcare setting may have in place for additional snack provisions which do not form part of the SMHSS guidelines.

No. Settings registering for the SMHSS must offer both milk (or a specified alternative) and a healthy snack to children with the exception of those under the age of six months who would not receive solid food.

Parents may decide to decline all or part of the offer, and in this situation settings are asked to document this.

No. Funding is based on the local authority the childcare setting is registered with for the Milk and Healthy Snack, not where the child lives.

Yes. Childcare settings are required to opt-in to the SMHSS.

This is because any childcare setting participating in the SMHSS will be obliged to adhere to the regulations, including provision of the benefit and monitoring and reporting obligations.

In the case of childcare/nursery chains, registration must be where each individual childcare setting is located.

Register for the Scottish Milk and Healthy Snack Scheme.

The Scottish Government's guidance suggests that childcare settings use the following approach:

  • Estimate how many servings you might expect to provide in one calendar day at your setting. This is likely, in the first instance, to be the same as the number of children who will attend the setting for two hours or more on that day.
  • Consider if there are days in the week for which this is not an appropriate proxy - add up to assess the total provision you might expect in the week to provide your average number of weekly servings.
  • Multiply average weekly servings by the number of weeks that your childcare setting will be open between: 1 August (or from registration if joining the SMHSS after that date) and the end of the financial year (31 March) and from 1 April - 31 July.
  • If you do not know how many weeks you expect to be open, please give a best estimate and let the local authority know that there is some uncertainty.
  • You are required to notify the local authority of any significant change (defined as a change +/- 10%).
  • Over time, you may wish to adjust your projections to take account of seasonal change (for example, lower attendance in holiday months) or regular patterns of absence.
  • For example, if you are a nursery with a capacity of 80, you might have anywhere between 80 and 160 children attending for two hours or more in one calendar day. You might estimate provision as follows:

Average attendance/required settings

  • Monday: 120
  • Tuesday: 112
  • Wednesday: 110
  • Thursday: 114
  • Friday: 88
    Weekly total: 544

Estimated annual total

  • Weekly total (average): 544
  • Number of weeks open between 1 August* and 31 March: 34
  • Number of weeks open between 1 April and 31 July: 16
  • Total number of weeks open in the SMHSS year: 50
  • Anticipated servings until 31 March = 34 x 544 = 18,496
  • Anticipated servings 1 April - 31 July = 16 x 544 = 8,704

* or registration date if joining the SMHSS post 1 August 

We will make the initial payment within four weeks of a provider registering.

We are looking to have set dates throughout the year for 'in-year' registration. These will be more frequent within year one to allow everyone to transition to the new SMHSS. Payments for 'in-year' registration will be made within four weeks of the date of registration.

Funding will not normally be backdated to cover a period prior to the date of registration.

Further information

If you have any questions which are not listed in the Frequently Asked Questions above, please email EarlyYears-Milk&

Contact Information


Education Service - Early Years