Within the Kirklees area there is an estimated loss of £444,252 to low-income families toward free fruit, vegetables, and milk via the Healthy Start scheme.
Analysis released in April 2023 by food charity Sustain shows that families across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will miss out on £68 million in payments this year if uptake rates don’t improve.
The Healthy Start scheme provides fruit, vegetables, vitamins, and milk for young families on low incomes, and could help now more than ever due to the current cost of living crisis.
Many families are not claiming, either because of complications in the application process, or simply because they are unaware they are eligible. Local authorities and food partnerships across the country have stepped up efforts to promote the Scheme but are facing difficulties associated with squeezed public health budgets and changing demographics. The Government had hoped to reach 75% of eligible families by the end of March, but only reached 366,000, or 64%.
Research shows that the number of households where children are experiencing food insecurity has nearly doubled in the past year and according to Food Foundation data, families with babies and young children are especially at risk, with 27.3% of households with children under 4 struggling to afford food.
Yorkshire Children’s Centre, a local charity based in Huddersfield that supports disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Kirklees and surrounding areas promotes the Healthy Start Scheme and are keen to encourage individuals and families that are eligible to sign up to the scheme.
Katie Lockwood, YCC Service Manager said “Thriving Kirklees are working hard to reach as many eligible people as possible through a targeted partnership approach, anti-natal fayres and YCC’s Community Champions. Although we have seen a slight increase in uptake there is still a long way to go, and we know that now more than ever, this additional help is needed.”
Here’s more about the scheme:
The Healthy Start scheme is open to children under the age of 4, and women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant. In order to qualify, you must be receiving any of the following:
- You, your partner, or your carer get Working Tax Credit run-on only after you have reported you’re working 16 hours or less per week
- Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
- Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
You will also be eligible for Healthy Start if:
- You’re under 18 and pregnant, even if you are not claiming any benefits
- You claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are over 10 weeks pregnant
You can find more information and get advice on how to apply on YCC’s website https://yorkshirechildrenscentre.org.uk/national-healthy-start/