Minister responds to BDA-backed campaign to increase uptake of Healthy Start vouchers17 July 2019
The Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price has responded to an open letter coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, calling for action to increase update of Healthy Start vouchers. The BDA, which is a member of Sustain, were signatories to the open letter, and a number of BDA members wrote to their MPs in support of the campaign.
The campaign called for government to invest the money saved by families not claiming the vouchers, which comes to £28.6 million, into efforts to increase uptake, especially amongst the most vulnerable people eligble. The Minister acknowledged that uptake was low, and outlined government plans to use a new digital platform to increase the number of people using the vouchers. She also confirmed that a consultation on Healthy Start as a whole would be delayed until after Brexit.
Healthy Start vouchers add at least £3.10 to a family shop per child each week, which could buy two litres of semi-skimmed milk, 1kg carrots, 900g frozen peas and 4 apples at a typical discount supermarket. Over the first four years of a child’s life this is equivalent to 1,090 pints of milk, 1,100 apples, 218kg of carrots and 143kg of peas.
Over 400 people wrote to over 290 MPs and many were supportive of the campaign. It was particularly positive to see the Labour party commit to investing £26.8m in the scheme as part of their proposed Future Wellbeing Act.
The BDA will continue to support Sustain's campaign as it moves into its next phase, which will be to push for an increase in the value of the vouchers, which have remained frozen for a decade. The BDA will also be responding to the consultation when it is released post-Brexit.
Read the Minister's response here.
Find out more about the campaign, and read the original open letter to the minister here.