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Government Programmes – This section of the Dashboard looks at two key children’s food policies and how well these are reaching disadvantaged children. These policies – Healthy Start and Free School Meals – are in place to help support children in poverty to be able to afford and access healthy, nutritious food.

Healthy Start
About Healthy Start: Healthy Start is a means-tested scheme for low-income pregnant women and young children providing vitamins and vouchers which can be used for foods to support basic nutrition including milk, fruit and veg. It is available to pregnant women and children under 4 years old who are receipt of qualifying benefits.

Country: Data presented is for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland report on the number of applications for Best Start Foods (the Scottish equivalent of Healthy Start), but not on the number of eligible people or uptake. We are therefore unable to report on this.

Source: NHS Healthy Start

Technical note: 
Population size is calculated from ONS population estimates mid-2020 (0-3 year olds) and PHE’s Surveillance of influenza and other respiratory viruses in the UK, Winter 2020-21 (pregnant women – table 1).

Percentage living in poverty is estimated based on percentage of children living in poverty (AHC) and percentage of adults living in poverty (AHC). These figures come from the “Households below average income” statistics published by DWP for the 2019/20 financial year. HBAI estimates are based on the Family Resources Survey which has a sample of 19,000 UK households. Income After Housing Costs is derived by deducting housing costs, including: rent, water rates and charges, mortgage interest payments, and structural insurance premiums. Full methodology can be seen here.

Healthy Start data are available on the NHS Healthy Start website. “Eligible” is defined as those claimants showing as eligible to claim for Healthy Start i.e. are in receipt of specified benefits. “Signed up for Healthy Start” refers to those classified as “Entitled” which is defined as those claimants that are confirmed as having a validated application form/claim and therefore vouchers have been issued to them. Healthy Start data are collected every 4 weeks. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the data refer to Cycle 237 which is the period between 21/06/2021 and 18/07/2021.