Torbay’s MP, Kevin Foster, has backed a cross-party call for the Health Secretary to contact families who are missing out on Healthy Start Payments.
Earlier this Kevin backed a Private Member’s Bill presented by Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck which aimed to ensure local families did not miss out on the Healthy Start Scheme.
The Healthy Start Scheme is a lifeline for many pregnant women and families with young children, providing free healthy fruit, vegetables, milk, and vitamins which are vital to a child’s development, mental health and physical health.
But too many families are still missing out as uptake across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in September 2023 was 68 per cent with some areas facing uptake as low as 51 per cent. This equates to over 171,000 babies, children and pregnant mothers missing out on millions of pounds worth of nutritious food. Alongside this, there are currently 20,500 households which previously were in receipt of paper vouchers that have not successfully applied for a prepaid card since the digital roll over.
Torbay has an uptake rate of 64.8%, meaning an estimated £103,839.32 of entitlement was not claimed by those entitled to help from the scheme locally.
The Department for Health and Social Care knows which families are missing out on the payments. The Private Member’s Bill would have auto-enrolled families onto the scheme. Sadly, it did not progress due to limits on parliamentary time for PMBs, so the situation remains the same.
Commenting Kevin Foster MP said: “In the absence of the legal change we were hoping for, I have joined with colleagues who had supported the bill in writing to the health secretary urging him to make direct contact with the families concerned to encourage them to apply. This would ensure low income families in our bay don’t miss out on the chance to get free fruit, milk and vegetables for their kids.”
If you have young children and are on a low income, you can check whether you are eligible on the NHS website by following this link: