§ Mrs. Chalker
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the most recent figures for (a) the annual administrative cost, excluding publicity, of free school meals, (b) the annual cost of publicity for free school meals, (c) the total administrative cost per recipient of free school meals, and (d) the number of civil servants employed to administer the free school meals scheme.346W
§ Mr. Armstrong
The free school meals arrangements are administered by local education authorities which also take responsibility for local publicity to bring them to the attention of parents. This publicity is known to be effective, since some 800,000 free school meals are taken up each day, which compares favourably with other means-tested benefits. It is not possible to identify local education authorities' costs on these items within their overall expenditure on administering the school meals service. Nor can any specific estimate he made of the costs incurred by central Government in publicising free school meals or in administering the national scheme governing entitlement to them. No civil servants are wholly or mainly employed on these matters.