Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham, is urging those eligible to take up the Healthy Start vouchers after it was revealed that 40 per cent of vouchers for fruit, vegetables and milk were unclaimed in Stockton-on-Tees.
Healthy Start is a vital NHS scheme which provides supermarket vouchers to low-income families with children under four, to help them buy healthy basics like fruit, vegetables, milk and infant formula. But despite the value of Healthy Start vouchers being boosted this week as a result of Marcus Rashford’s #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY campaign, the take-up of the vouchers by those eligible is dropping across England.
Now Alex, who called on the Prime Minister to properly tackle child poverty at a recent Prime Minister’s Question time, has written to Stockton Borough Council leader, Bob Cook, asking that the Council lead on a publicity campaign to boost Healthy Start take up.
“The pandemic has shown in stark terms inequality in our society, made worse by almost eleven years of Tory austerity policies. In Stockton North child poverty has jumped from 25 per cent in 2015 to a shocking 34 per cent in 2019 – yet many children living in poverty are not eligible for free school meals.
“This is a disgraceful situation. No child should be going hungry, and the Healthy Start programme is but one way to address this. I’m deeply concerned that forty per cent of these vouchers are going unclaimed in Stockton-on-Tees, and I have written to the Council asking them to lead on a promotional campaign to boost take-up.”
If you are pregnant or have children under four, you might be eligible for free Healthy Start vouchers if you are in receipt of Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit. More details can be found here.