Thanks to a successful legal challenge over the eligibility criteria for Healthy Start vouchers, some of the poorest children from migrant families have become entitled.
The Healthy Start scheme aims to reduce health inequalities by providing vitamins, dietary advice and £4.25 in vouchers per week for milk, infant formula, and vegetables to low-income families with pregnant women or children up to four years old. Entitlement to the scheme is based on eligibility for mainstream benefits, which excludes people who do not have settled status even if they are legally living in the country.
Lawyers representing the mother of a one-year-old, whose income was 40% below the benefits entitlement threshold, challenged the eligibility criteria as discriminatory against black and ethnic minority children. Although lawfully living in the UK, the mother was ineligible because she has non-permanent immigration status, even though the baby and their father have British citizenship.
Following a High Court order for the case to have a full hearing, Matt Hancock conceded the case and the family will now be provided with vouchers. The Department of Health and Social Care have also committed to undertaking a review of the scheme.
As a result of this crucial case, all children who were previously unable to benefit from the scheme because of their parents’ immigration status, will now be entitled to Healthy Start support. We welcome this change, and would like to see the Government further commit to maintaining their free school meal eligibility extension to children from families with no recourse to public funds.