Over 100 organisations including charities, food partnerships, councils, and Public Health Directors have signed a letter calling on the UK Government to make urgent improvements to the Healthy Start scheme amidst the cost-of-living crisis.
The letter, which has been sent to Steve Barclay (Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care), Mel Stride (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) and Michael Brodie (Chief Executive of NHS Business Services Authority) calls on them to take immediate action and increase the Healthy Start payments in line with inflation to assist families that are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
The Healthy Start scheme currently offers funds worth £4.25 per week to pregnant women and children (up to the age of 4), who are in low-income families, as well as to all pregnant women under the age of 18. If a baby is under the age of 1, the amount increases to £8.50 per week. This can be used to buy fruit, vegetables, milk, and infant formula.
According to The Food Foundation “food inflation has risen to 16% leaving more households unable to afford essentials including fruit and vegetables and infant formula”.
Campaign group Sustain have also said “Government needs to show leadership” of the scheme rather than depending on “local communities to promote the scheme alone” and suggests a £5 million Government funded communications campaign to increase awareness. It also calls for an extension of the scheme to all families in receipt of Universal Credit.
You can read the letter in full here