HC Deb 26 July 1985 vol 83 cc800-1W
Mr. Fallon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities have made the reduction in school meals costs which the Government's expenditure plans envisage.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Government's plans, framed in the light of the Education Act 1980, which gave local education authorities greater discretion over the service provided, envisaged a 35 per cent. reduction in cash expenditure on school meals between 1979–80 and 1983–84, the latest year for which out-turn figures are available. Five authorities have attained reductions in excess of that figure and several others have got close to it. They have achieved that result through a variety of measures, including efficiency savings, letting contracts to the private sector and exercising the discretion offered in the 1980 Act to provide meals only for those pupils to whom they are required to provide them free. If other local education authorities did more to make their school meals service cost-effective and to reduce its net cost, they would be able to maintain the standard of their education service at a lower cost to the rate-payer.