Welfare Milk

Health written question – answered on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Conservative, Weston-Super-Mare

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what (a) representations and (b) other information she has received on the financial impact on nurseries and playgroups suffering from delayed payments for reimbursement of the cost of milk from the Welfare Food Reimbursement Unit;

(2) what value of claims by nurseries or playgroups for reimbursement of the cost of milk from the Welfare Food Reimbursement Unit are awaiting payment; and what the average value was of claims outstanding at any one time in 2006;

(3) how many claims by nurseries and playgroups for reimbursement of the cost of milk from the Welfare Food Reimbursement Unit are awaiting payment; and how many were awaiting payment at any one time on average in 2006.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

On 27 February 2007 there were 5,018 outstanding claims for payment from nurseries and other day care providers relating to milk supplied through the Welfare Food Scheme. The total value of the claims was £1,310,105. Of these, 3,712 (£780,374) were claims for payments to be made by cheque, and the remainder were for payments directly made to bank accounts.

Because of a change in contractor on 1 December 2006, it has taken longer than we would have wished for claims from nurseries and other day care providers to be processed. Those wishing to be paid by cheque have experienced longer delays because the new contractor had to wait for secure cheque stationery to be printed. That stationery has now been printed and the backlog of cheque payments was cleared by 1 March 2007.

Currently, payments in respect of new claims are being made within 15 days of receipt. From 9 March 2007, we expect this to reduce to eight days. Claims that are complicated—usually because not all required information has been provided—take longer to resolve.

Details of the number and value of claims awaiting payment at any one time during 2006 is not available due to the change in contractor.

I have received one representation on behalf of a nursery, concerned about the way with which its outstanding claims were being dealt.

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