The SNP Government has today launched a consultation on its proposals to provide low-income families with young children with increased payments, digital smartcards and access to a wider range of foods.
This would be achieved through changes in its Welfare Foods Scheme, which consists of the Healthy Start Vouchers and the Nursery Milk Scheme, which are anticipated to take effect from 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Current plans include changing from paper Healthy Start food vouchers to smartcards for easier use and to reduce stigma, as well as cutting the administration involved for retailers. Families’ allowances would rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week, and from £899 to £1,011 in total over the period they receive support.
The range of foods covered by the system will also expand, while it is proposed to add a healthy snack to the free milk children receive at nurseries.
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell MSP said:
“Central to our aim of improving Scotland’s health and tackling inequality is ensuring everyone can have a healthy diet, especially families with young children. There is compelling evidence that diet impacts on children’s health, their ability to learn and their life chances as they grow up.
“For too many families, poverty and deprivation are daily barriers to eating healthily. Our plans set out how we can further support families to make healthier choices, ensure the system is as easy as possible to use, while reducing stigma and increasing take-up.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“We know that there are parents in North Ayrshire and Scotland who struggle to provide their families with healthy and nutritious meals daily and the SNP is constantly looking at ways of improving this, against the backdrop of continued Tory austerity imposed by the UK Government.
“Only last month, the SNP Government announced the continuation of the £1 million a year Fair Food Fund over 2018-19 to enable existing projects to continue their work. In addition, a further £1 million over the next two years will fund new activity to support children facing food insecurity, particularly during school holidays.
“Now we have another opportunity to make the Healthy Start and Nursery Milk programmes as accessible as possible. Therefore, I encourage everyone across North Ayrshire who may be affected to take part in this consultation, to help shape an effective and proportionate Welfare Foods package that reaches the right children at the right time, makes it easier for families to make healthier choices, improves delivery and makes best use of resources.”
The consultation Welfare Foods - a consultation on meeting the needs of children and families in Scotland runs until 28 June and can be accessed via: