A council has run up a bill of £650,000 buying catering equipment for the UIFSM school meals scheme even though it was only awarded £226,000 in government funding.
The Isle of Wight Council has had to find cash from other budgets to finance kitchen improvements after failing to secure a large enough grant to cover the necessary works.
Council officials confirmed the true cost of constructing kitchens and buying equipment was around £650,000, forcing them to make up a shortfall of some £464,000.
But it is confident that all primary schools on the island are now in a position serve free meals from September.
Cllr Richard Priest, executive member for children’s services, told the Isle of Wight County Press: “The council has received a capital grant from the government of just over £226,000, and the diocese has provided additional funding of nearly £70,000 to the council’s allocation to deliver catering improvement works in primary schools on the Island.
“The local authority has directly procured all necessary equipment and building works, with the total cost estimated to be in the region of £650,000. The funding shortfall is being made up from the council’s schools capital maintenance budget.”