The Labour Party has said it would provide more fresh fruit and vegetables to poorer children under its plans for a Future Generations Wellbeing Act for England if it is elected.
The party claims that the number of women and children eligible to receive government ‘Healthy Start’ vouchers, which are designed to help lower income families get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables, has fallen by 20 per cent in four years. Simultaneously, since 2012/13, funding for healthy start welfare food payments has been slashed by £36.6 million – just over a quarter.
Speaking at the Fabian Society, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, pledged to spend £26.8 million on the ‘Healthy Start’ programme, which the party said was equivalent to 42.4 million pints of milk, plus 33 million apples, 6.5 million kg of carrots and 4.3 million kg of peas.
The measure is the latest announcement as part of Labour’s strategy to improve health and wellbeing alongside a commitment in government to a new “Future Generation’s Wellbeing Act” for England. Following the lead of Welsh Labour, who implemented a Wellbeing Act, Labour envisages the Act will place duties on health services, public bodies in England and government to take account of population health and wellbeing, now and in the future, when making their decisions.
Mr Ashworth said, “We will focus determinedly on improving the health and wellbeing of every child, ensuring children have access to nutritious food not just in schools but also by expanding Healthy Start. Labour will ensure the poorest children receive the milk, fruit and vegetables they need.”
Photo caption: Labour has pledged £26.8 million to help the less well off to get more fruit and vegetables
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures