There is growing concern that low-income households who are eligible for free food vouchers are not claiming them. The Healthy Start programme provides eligible pregnant women and children under 4 with weekly vouchers to buy healthy food like milk, fruit and vegetables. As a response to the recommendations in Part One of the National Food Strategy and Marcus Rashford’s #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY campaign, the Government increased the value of the Healthy Start voucher from £3.10 per week to £4.25 per week (or double that for babies under 12 months). However, despite the boost, the take-up of the vouchers by those eligible is plummeting across the country.
Marcus Rashford has called on health workers to spread the word about availability of food vouchers.
In addition the recently published Part Two of the National Food Strategy https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/ has recommended a further extension of the Healthy Start scheme
Using the Food Justice Finder, Cllr Liz Colling has identified that across North Yorkshire only 49% of those eligible claim their vouchers. “That means at least £7,106.00 worth of vouchers are going unclaimed in our area each week. Thatequates to £369,000 of unclaimed benefits per annum”, says Cllr Colling.
As Cllr Colling points out, given that one of the qualifying benefits for the Healthy Start scheme is Universal Credit which may change in September, increasing uptake of the scheme is both important and urgent.
Please take action
1) Write to your NYCC councillor and ask them what actions are they are going to urgently take to help increase the take-up of vouchers amongst those families with young children and babies who are entitled to this support .
2) write to your MP
– ask them what actions are they are going to urgently take to help increase the take-up of Heathy start vouchers amongst those families with young children and babies who are entitled to this support