The Government has slashed the School Food Trust's (SFT) budget by £1m as part as part of Chancellor George Osborne's £6.25b of immediate spending cuts to bring down the UK's £156b deficit.
The SFT has been told it must cut its marketing spend by 40% to £1.5m for the rest of the financial year. The organisation's overall funding from Government is now £7.65m.
Chief executive of the SFT Judy Hargadon said the body was committed to making its contribution to the savings needed right across the public sector. "The reductions in spending may come from delaying some pieces of work, reducing costs on others and indeed cancelling some projects we had planned but not yet started," she explained.
Hospitality industry figures seemed to have little sympathy for the SFT following the news. Beverley Baker, chair of the Local Authority Caterers Association, said: "The cuts the School Food Trust have been asked to make are of the order of 11.5% of its total budget for the year. It's totally appropriate because, like all in the public sector, the School Food Trust should be required to make savings."
But she also called on the SFT to carefully analyse all its costs and make reductions that would allow the SFT to continue to work to ensure as many children as possible enjoyed the benefits of a nutritious school meal.
Vic Laws from AVL Consulting added: "The SFT should be closed down. It has done what it was set up to do and it is now purporting to be a marketing and data-collecting company."
Meanwhile Bob Cotton, the outgoing chief executive of the British Hospitality Association told Caterer: "These cuts are minor compared with some of the others. We are not a special case. We have to face up to that and get on with it."
However, Cotton did warn that plans to replace Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) could prompt a rethink on regional tourism marketing strategies and that the industry would have to consider this in the run-up to the next Comprehensive Spending Review in October.
RDAs, which are intended to help support private businesses in their regions, are being scrapped in favour of Local Enterprise Partnerships.
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