Strengthening family food support
As a Government, we are committed to improving the health of our nation and tackling inequality.
One of the key challenges we face in achieving this is how to ensure everyone can have a healthy diet, and in particular how to help families with young children to make sure they get the best start in life.
The devolution of powers over Welfare Foods gives us a great opportunity to strengthen the support we give families. From today we are consulting on our plans for reshaping the system, including the current Healthy Start Vouchers and Nursery Milk Scheme.
There is strong and growing evidence of how diet impacts not only on children’s health and wellbeing, but also their ability to learn and their life chances as they grow up.
For too many families maintaining a healthy diet is a daily challenge with poverty and deprivation being key barriers. The current systems target those who need support most, at critical points such as pregnancy, birth and early childhood. We want this to continue and to go further.
Our plans set out a number of proposals to enable families to make healthier choices, while reducing bureaucracy and making the best use of resources. They also link Welfare Foods to expanded and enhanced early learning and childcare, and ask for views on adding a healthy snack to our nursery milk offer to help children learn about healthy food.
We also want to make the system as easy as possible for families to use, to encourage take-up of this benefit and to remove stigma so our proposals include replacing the paper Healthy Start Vouchers with a new Best Start Foods smartcard. We’ve already been told that a smartcard system would offer greater flexibility and security to families and reduce the administrative burden for retailers. And we will simplify the application process by linking it with the new Best Start Grant.
We also want to create more choice for families by expanding the range of foods available and increasing the value of the weekly payments to cover the costs of ensuring children eat healthily.
Giving children the best start in life is a Government priority. Our proposals aim to deliver a proportionate, cohesive system that reaches the right children at the right time and promotes a healthy diet for life.
We want to get your views on our plans and on the approaches that will have the greatest impact on children and their families.
Minister for Public Health and Sport