A scheme that provides schoolchildren with free milk will continue after EU funding was revoked, Education Secretary John Swinney has announced.

Funded by the European Council, the scheme was closed to the UK in October and the Scottish Government has said it will provide cash to allow it to continue until at least the end of the academic year.

It was shut ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.

Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government will continue to push the UK Government to make up the shortfall but will provide £722,000 in the meantime.

Ministers said two-thirds of local authorities in Scotland received funding from the scheme.

The Education Secretary said: “Offering milk in schools provides an excellent source of nutrients for young people and helps to set up healthy eating habits.

“The withdrawal of the EU scheme threatens the ability of local authorities to provide subsidised milk in schools, running the risk that children and young people will miss out.

“It is another example of the detrimental financial impact of leaving the EU.

“We will continue to press the UK Government to make up the shortfall, but parents and local authorities can be assured we will not allow the school milk scheme to be lost.”

Amy Woodhouse, the head of policy, projects and participation at Children in Scotland said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government will provide financial support to continue the provision of subsidised milk in schools.

“Children in Scotland recognises that the health consequences for children and young people of food poverty and poor diet are considerable.

“In such a difficult year, when many families are facing enormous financial pressures, this small but important step, alongside recent free school meal announcements, will help to protect children’s health and wellbeing during a time of increased vulnerability.”