I filed a number of questions with my local council as I have yet to be shown ANY BENEFITS that a biometric system provides
to MY children. Flintshire council's original letter to parents states that they intend to implement a biometric cashless catering system in ALL SCHOOLS in Flintshire. (note the discrepancy with the FOI answers below)
Below are the questions I asked - and the answers...
(it is very worrying indeed that Flintshire County Council have earmarked well over £300,000 of taxpayers money based purely on 'commonly perceived benefits' - I have filed more questions... and complaints...
Also note the total lack of discussions/ meetings held about this with other democratically elected councillors... and the huge rise in the budget for the 'Catering Services Department'
if only this money was being spent on better quality food...)
Dear Mrs McKeand,
Further to your enquiry made under the Freedom of Information Act, please find my response.
1. I wish to be provided with ALL cost / benefit analysis that have been completed concerning anything whatsoever to do with implementing these cashless systems in Flintshire schools. Not just for Mold Alun but for all schools in Flintshire as stated in the quote from the first letter from Alun School, above. This includes all equipment, maintenance and IT services.
A1. The Council holds no information regarding a cost/benefit analysis. The commonly perceived benefits however, are that:
Pupils in receipt of free meals are not identifiable, thus encouraging them to take up their entitlement to free meals. Other Authorities with cashless systems have reported a marked increase in the take up of free meals.
Pupils do not need cash to purchase meals thus reducing the opportunity for theft and cases of bullying
Due to the reduction in the length of the school day and consequently the shorter lunchtime service, cashless systems can speed up service enabling pupils to eat before their afternoon registration
Parents can monitor what their children are eating through reports available from the systems. This gives back some control to parents over what their children eat
Parents can ask the system to block certain foods they do not wish their children to eat
The cashless system in Elfed has shown a marked increase in the uptake of meals – more pupils are taking a hot meal at lunchtime – this falls into line with the Appetite for Life recommendations that more children should have a meal at lunchtime
Parents are able to top-up their child’s account by cheque thus preventing pupils from spending their dinner money on the way to school. There is also a facility to allow for payment via the internet which can be adopted by schools in the future.
2. I wish to know who carried out these cost/ benefit analysis and what conclusions they reached, I will need to see the information that this decision was based upon.
A2. As the Council holds no information regarding a cost/benefit analysis, this question cannot be answered.
3. What is the FULL, TOTAL AND FINAL cost of this system in Alun School?
A3.The full cost of the system in the Alun School is as follows: -
PCS Systems £20,905.00
Software £ 1,062.32
Installation £ 1,162.50
Server £ 283.14
Printer etc. £ 574.00
Writing/Electrics £ 1,162.50
4. What is the FULL, TOTAL AND FINAL COST of rolling this system out across Flintshire schools?
A4. The Council does not have this information. The full, total and final cost of rolling this system out across Flintshire Schools is not known as a full roll out is not yet timetabled or costed.
5. What will be the annual running costs of these systems for the Alun School?
A5.The annual running costs of these systems for the Alun School are £1,967.40
6. What will be the TOTAL annual running costs of these systems for ALL SCHOOLS in Flintshire once this system has been implemented in all Flintshire schools?
A6. The Council does not have this information. The total annual running cost for all schools is unknown and unquantified given that the system operates in two Secondary Schools only.
7. I require the minutes of ALL council meetings concerning the spending of the Education Catering Service budget in relation to these cashless systems.
A7. This is exempt information under the Act because the minutes of County Council meetings are already in the public domain. However, there is no separate reference to this subject in any of the Council’s Minutes or budget reports as this has not been before a Council Meeting; this was an operational development.
8. I wish to know what the budget for Education Catering Service Department was for 2005, 2006 & 2007.
A8.The budget for 2004/05 - £246,890
2005/06 - £258,065
2006/07 - £287,814
9. What is the budget for this department for 2008?
A9. The budget for this Unit in 2007/08 is £393,778
10. What is the projected budget for this department for 2009 & 2010?
A10.The projected budget for this Unit in 2008/09 and 2009/10 is as follows: -
2008/09 - £403,090 (based on current year prices)
2009/10 - £403,090 (based on current year prices)
11. Where does this budget come from? Who decided the budget for the department?
A11. The full County Council sets the Budget each year at the Budget Meeting. However, I do not believe the minutes of the annual Budget Meetings contain any information beyond that supplied in (8) and (9) above.
12. Finally, as you ordered these systems from a private independent company, I wish to know the full name and address of this private organisation and who at this company has been dealing with the council. I also require copies of all orders made to this organisation, and I require copies of all purchase orders, including order numbers generated by Flintshire Council and any department or person employed by Flintshire County Council relating to the purchase and maintenance of the cashless catering systems. Photocopies/ faxes are acceptable at this point.
A12.This is exempt information under the Act but I can advise you of the name of the company together with contact names:
PCS Cashless Payment Systems
Units 1 and 4
The Business Centre
The contact names are Mr Kevin Foley and Mr Danny Cookson.
I can confirm that the expenditure is as listed under my answers at (3) and (5).
I hope I have responded to your enquiry to your satisfaction. If you believe I have not dealt with your request properly the enclosed complaints procedure provides a way for your request to be reconsidered by a Senior Officer not previously involved in processing your request.