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Healthy Start Scheme

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people (a) qualified for Healthy Start, (b) took up Healthy Start vouchers and (c) used Healthy Start vouchers to purchase Healthy Start products in each year since Healthy Start began. (233289)

The numbers qualifying for Healthy Start fluctuate according to the numbers of pregnant women and young children in families getting the qualifying benefits and tax credits. We estimate that approximately 473,000 families qualified for support from the scheme when it was launched across the UK on 28 November 2006. All of these families were transferred automatically from the old Welfare Food Scheme onto the new scheme without having to apply for it.

On 27 October 2008, approximately 409,500 families were receiving vouchers.

Most Healthy Start vouchers are issued for use within a specific four-week period and retailers have six months from the end of that period to claim payment for them. Retailers claimed payment for approximately 87 per cent. of all vouchers issued for use between 27 November 2006 and 25 November 2007. This rose to 89 per cent. of all vouchers issued for use between 26 November 2007 and 16 March 2008.