Next week I will be introducing a Bill to Parliament that calls on the Government to automatically enrol those eligible for NHS Healthy Start prepaid cards onto the scheme.
Currently, around 200,000 babies, children and pregnant mothers are missing out on funding to which they are entitled – leaving around £53 million on the table across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The NHS Healthy Start Scheme is available to pregnant women, or those with children from 0 to 4, and provides funding for milk, baby formula, fruit and vegetables that are vital for their development. But recent switches to digital systems have caused issues and take-up has been affected by communication, bureaucracy and the stigma attached; so around 36% of those eligible are missing out on this incredibly important nutritional safety net.
My Bill aims to auto-enrol those not aware they are on the scheme, meaning that a prepaid card will be available to them as soon as they meet the criteria.
The situation for many families because of the Tory cost-of-living crisis is desperate and the Healthy Start Scheme isn’t reaching everyone that it should do. Even when it does, the average payment of £7.86 isn’t enough for most formulas on the market. But my Bill will at least address the low-hanging fruit and get that payment to those who need it. I’m urging the Government to take it on board.