Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 5:28 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of Mark Hoban Mark Hoban The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 5:28 pm, 26th October 2010

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Government have had to go through this challenging spending process with care, examining both spending and welfare decisions. We have had to take decisions that are not straightforward, not easy and not ones that we would have wanted to take, but we have had to do so because of the financial problem that we inherited from our predecessors.

Let me give another example of targeted support that is available, because Mrs Hodgson talked about means-tested grants. I am sure that she will be aware of the Healthy Start scheme, which is a statutory scheme providing a nutritional safety net and encouragement for breastfeeding and healthy eating to more than 500,000 pregnant women and to children under the age of four in low-income and disadvantaged families across the UK. The scheme is tied carefully because, unlike the health in pregnancy grant, it provides vouchers for people to put towards the cost of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk at 30,000 retail outlets. So measures are in place to support the groups that she is most concerned about, and it is right that that is so. The health in pregnancy grant is unfocused and untargeted.