Healthy Start Scheme

Health written question – answered on 25th June 2014.

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Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Equalities)

To ask The Secretary of State for Health how many parents received Healthy Start vouchers in the latest year for which figures are available; and what the total cost to the Exchequer of such vouchers was.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Healthy Start provides a nutritional safety net to pregnant women, new mothers and children under four years old in United Kingdom families claiming income-based benefits, or claiming child tax credit without working tax credit (unless it is working tax credit run-on) with an annual family income of £16,190 or less. Healthy Start vouchers are issued four-weekly by post and the number entitled to receive the vouchers in each complete four week period during 2013-14 is set out in the following table.

Four weeks beginning on: Total number of households Total number of women and children
8 April 2013 457,035 557,833
6 May 2013 455,271 555,454
3 June 2013 453,646 553,208
1 July 2013 450,164 548,533
29 July 2013 443,939 540,437
26 August 2013 441,385 537,195
23 September 2013 438,471 533,703
21 October 2013 434,397 528,620
18 November 2013 432,549 526,151
16 December 2013 428,328 520,777
13 January 2014 427,362 519,570
10 February 2014 425,659 517,463
10 March 2014 423,156 514,217

The gradual reduction in the number entitled to support during 2013-14 reflects a decline in the number of households meeting the qualifying criteria.

Approximately £93 million was paid to retailers during 2013-14 for Healthy Start vouchers they had accepted in exchange for milk, formula milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. Retailers have six months from the use-by date printed on vouchers to claim reimbursement, and typically they claim reimbursement for at least 91% of all Healthy Start vouchers issued.

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