More than 250 jobs could be lost if primary schools across the county axe their hot school meals service from April, costing Shropshire Council nearly £500,000 in redundancy payouts.
A briefing sent to headteachers by the council reveals that 74 of the 131 Shropshire primary schools are classified as ‘at risk’ of losing their hot meals service for pupils.
The council’s catering arm, Shire Services, currently provides each of the 131 primary schools in Shropshire with a school meals service, but from April the Government is changing the way it funds such meals.
The schools, which cater for up to 20,000 pupils, will have to apply directly to the Government for funding, which will be calculated on how many pupils they have and how many are eligible for free meals.
As a result Shire Services has calculated that 257 catering jobs are at risk.
An email sent on behalf of Cecilia Motley, the council’s Cabinet member for education and skills, and seen by the Shropshire Star, suggests that a ‘worst case scenario’ could see Shire Services having to pick up a redundancy bill for £436,574.
The information, also sent to school governors, said: “From initial calculations undertaken by Shire Services, the current school meals provider, it would appear that 56 per cent of primary schools are likely to have insufficient funding to cover the cost of a school meals service to the level currently provided.
“In general terms the majority of schools with less than 150 pupils on roll will not have sufficient funding to provide a hot school meals service.”
It added: “In the 74 at risk schools some 250 staff are employed in the school meals service whose jobs will be at risk of redundancy.
“In addition there would be seven head office and operational staff at risk of redundancy in order to reflect the reduced income levels. The redundancy costs for this group of staff is £436,574, based on the worst case scenario.”