Government has a duty to ensure every child has a good start in life

Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley.
Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley.

Inequality must be addressed in the early years by offering every child the best start in life to ensure that they are given a fair chance to succeed, writes Sir Kevin Barron.

I am very concerned that the Healthy Start scheme, which aimed to act as a nutritional safety net for low-income families and for young pregnant women, is being cut.

Indeed, recent analysis has shown that the number of women and children eligible to receive the vouchers has fallen by 20 per cent in four years.

Analysis has further shown that since 2012-13, funding has been cut by £36.6 million.

In April 2019, the Children’s Future Food Inquiry report raised concerns that children’s development is being restricted by the effects of poverty.

The inquiry recommended that the Government expands the Healthy Start voucher scheme by increasing the voucher value and increasing the number of children who benefit.

I am deeply concerned that Britain is facing a child poverty and child hunger crisis and cuts are being felt the hardest on the most vulnerable communities.

I believe that it is a national disgrace that 4.1 million children are living in poverty in the UK.

READ THIS: The areas of Bassetlaw with the highest levels of child poverty.

Food insecurity can lead to obesity and restricted growth and can hinder healthy development. It is vital that the Government pledges to tackle child poverty with a new Child Poverty Strategy.

Healthy Start vouchers are crucial in helping children from lower income families get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables.

I believe funding should be made available to provide children in the most deprived areas of the country with fresh fruit and vegetables.

I would like to see a comprehensive, national strategy to tackle health inequalities, attacking the wider factors of ill health and putting prevention first.