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Agenda Item No. 7

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 8th April 2014

 

Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Cashless Catering Update

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Members on the current position regarding cashless catering as requested by Scrutiny [Corporate Resources] Committee at a recent meeting.

Recommendation

1.         That Members note the current position on cashless catering and the forthcoming implementation plan.

Reason for Recommendation

1.         To update Members on progress.

Background

2.         Cashless catering is a term used for the purchase of catering items within school without using cash at the point of sale.  It does not mean that there is no longer cash being taken within school. In Vale schools cash is loaded by pupils/staff onto their fob via revaluation machines.  This cash is counted by catering staff at the end of the day and picked up by G4S on a weekly basis.

3.         To become a true cashless catering operation, online, telephone and paypoint payment arrangements are required for parents/guardians to update fobs to eliminate the need to bring cash into school. For secondary school pupils this offer is currently under consideration and expected to be available in the Spring/Summer term. 

4.         Primary school parents/guardians already have the opportunity to pay online via the Council's online facility or via telephone payments to Contact One Vale which was set up for all primary schools in September 2012. This option is currently working in 31 Vale primary schools.  An option to pay at a Pay Point terminal in the local shop or Post Office would complete the option of cashless payments at primary level. 

5.         Cheques are still accepted in all schools.  Pupil/staff fobs are updated with the value of the cheque.  Due to the large number of bounced cheques, catering are keen for these to be phased out where possible. In a recent survey there was only one objection to this planned change. Arrangements for handling cheques will be maintained where these continue to be required.

6.         The Council's catering service previously had four different cashless catering solutions in five secondary schools and one primary school.  A new contract with one solution which includes a Management Information System (MIS) was required to provide the full range of payment options for parents/guardians and the growing need for data regarding the catering service. Data is needed to support the management of the service and meet external requests for information from Welsh Government (WG), Freedom of Information, Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) and Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA).

7.         The Welsh Government has set guidelines on reducing the stigma associated with free school meal provision within catering settings.  A cashless system where all pupils receive their food in the same way removes the stigma completely.  All schools within the Vale are now working within these guidelines.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.         Nationwide Retail Systems Limited were the successful bidder and are capable of providing ongoing software updates as legislation and reporting changes within the school meals service.

9.         The purchase of school meals within the five managed secondary schools by Vale Catering Services is without stigma.

10.      Payment for school meals in the 49 primary schools can now be offered via online and telephone payments, 31 schools are currently offering online and telephone payments for school meals. These arrangements will shortly be offered within the five secondary schools which will include Pay Point for families without access to a PC/Smart technology.

11.      Three of the five secondary schools have had the new cashless system installed and it is working well.  The remaining two secondary schools will have the new cashless system installed before Easter 2014.

12.      The roll-out timetable for primary schools will take effect from April 2014 to July 2015 which is slightly delayed from the initial timetable due to network issues in some schools. 

13.      Network issues were highlighted towards the end of the tender process.  Schools who run an administration network and a curriculum network were unable to integrate the cashless software due to security issues.  The cashless system needs to run from a central location which the Vale's ICT Network Team have resolved and are supporting the catering service to prepare each school prior to installation.  Schools will have approximately half a term's notice of their installation date.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.      An investment from the Capital Project Fund has been secured to proceed with this project. 

15.      All of the capital elements of the contract will be paid from the Project Fund which will be repaid within the 5 years of the contract.

16.      Whilst there are financial implications for the additional networking issues to be resolved this will be managed within the existing monies secured from the Capital Project Fund.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

17.      There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18.      The Council has entered into a formal contract with Nationwide Retail Systems Limited for the implementation of this solution

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.      There are no crime and disorder implications

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.      There are no equal opportunity implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.      Provide, develop and maintain a resilient and efficient data/communications cashless catering and management information solution for the catering service and the Council.

22.      To provide and develop the strategic direction of the catering service with regard to its use of ICT in the delivery of its services, monitoring and reporting.

Policy Framework and Budget

23.      The recommendations in the report are within the existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Carole Tyley, Catering Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Service, Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

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