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  • Writer's pictureKemiALondoner

Healthy Start Vouchers Adjournment

Weds 21st Full Council meeting -

I’d like to adjourn the council for 30 seconds to draw attention to food inequality, children’s health and low Healthy Start voucher take up in Wandsworth.

Good nutrition is incredibly important for all, but particularly for younger children, pregnant women and vulnerable adults.

Healthy Start vouchers, which can be used to buy fruit, vegetables, pulses and milk, provide crucial access to healthy food for those who need it most: qualifying pregnant women, babies and toddlers.

Take up of Healthy Start Vouchers fell dramatically across England last year due to the pandemic as Covid-19 restrictions limited the opportunities and contact points eligible pregnant women and those with young children to access information about them. In Wandsworth recent statistics (cycle 236) show that fewer than half (59%) of those eligible for vouchers are claiming them, which means around 1000 families that receive benefits are not receiving them and this doesn’t include those with no recourse to public funds or those under 18. In light of the recommendation from the National Food Strategy and campaigning by Marcus Rashford, the Government increased their value from April this year and they are now accessible to families with No Recourse To Public funds Many supermarkets, including the Co-operative have committed to topping up the value of Healthy Start Vouchers, a very welcome initiative.

I would like this council to 1) To run an active promotional campaign for Healthy Start Vouchers, starting in the first quarter of the academic year in 2021, ideally in conjunction with relevant health and care providers to encourage the uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers in Wandsworth to ensure that our young people get the best possible start in life. The campaign will share the increase in value from April, the new eligibility criteria and support for those to apply, and to continue promoting them with a view to a figure of at least 75% take up.

2) To run an active campaign to encourage businesses to accept the vouchers thus ensure they can be redeemed in shops local to those who need it especially those which sell culturally relevant foods.

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