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Welfare Food

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement about the limited changes in the welfare food service referred to in the White Paper on the Government's expenditure plans 1980–81; and what are his intentions for the future of children's vitamin drops and vitamin tablets for expectant and nursing mothers sold under the welfare food service.

In my reply to the hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) on 12 November 1979, I said that the changes related solely to beneficiaries in large families not needing help on income grounds.After 31 December 1979, the Government will remove from the categories of beneficiary under the free welfare milk and vitamins scheme those in large young families not receiving supplementary benefit, family income supplement or claiming on grounds of low income. Tokens for those categories have not been provided since 15 November for dates beyond 31 December 1979. Tokens already issued to such families for dates beyond 31 December 1979 will however continue to be honoured. Those affected in such families are:—expectant mothers with at least two children under school age;—the third and subsequent children in families with at least three children under school age.There is no change in the arrangements for:

  • (i) families receiving supplementary benefit, family income supplement or claiming on grounds of low income;
  • (ii) children attending an approved day nursery, playgroup or childminder;
  • (iii) handicapped children aged 5 to 16 who are not registered pupils at a school.
  • The savings in England in 1980–81 under the new arrangements are expected to be about £1·8 million, and £2·5 million in each subsequent year, based on the present price for liquid milk of 15p a pint.

    Vitamin supplements and modified dried milk will continue to be sold at maternity and child health clinics for use by expectant and nursing mothers and young children. However because of increased raw material and production costs, the Health Ministers have agreed that the following price increases will take effect from 1 January 1980 for vitamin supplements bought at clinics and welfare food distribution centres:

    Present Price

    Price from 1 January 1980

    Children's vitamin drops (per bottle)10p14p
    Vitamin tablets for expectant and nursing mothers (per container)24p30p

    The effect of the price increases will be that a family not entitled to free welfare food would pay between 1p and 2p extra a week for vitamin supplements.

    I am laying a Welfare Food (Amendment) Order tomorrow to give effect to both the changes in the scheme and the price increases.