Government still failing on healthy start vouchers

29 October 2021
The Government is still failing to register families with no recourse to public funds for the Healthy Start Scheme, despite a successful legal claim to the contrary.

Back in June, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) conceded to providing Healthy Start vouchers to families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF). This followed a legal challenge from a mother, on the basis that this decision was discriminatory against black and ethnic minority children.

Health Secretary at the time, Matt Hancock, agreed to provide the vouchers for children from NRPF backgrounds, and to undertake a review of the scheme. However, nearly five months on, our friends at Sustain have discovered the Government is yet to grant the vouchers to anyone with NRPF.

Families that became newly eligible in June were told to apply via a dedicated DHSC email address, as opposed to the usual application process. As the Department has yet to develop a separate application form, a back log of applications has resulted in no families being enrolled.

Extending the scheme to NRPF families is a vital move which we support, and one that is in the National Food Strategy. We see no reason to not also make permanent the extension of free school meals to those with NRPF, as they have not only been clearly identified as being in need, but also excluding them is discriminatory.