Wholesome begin: Hancock agrees to begin a wholesome consuming program for immigrant kids
The government should face a legal challenge to the Healthy Start program’s treatment of blacks and ethnic minorities, but agreed to review the rules before a hearing could take place
The Healthy Start program is worth £ 4.25 per week per child for eligible families. Image: Pixabay
The UK government will extend the Healthy Start voucher system to thousands of disadvantaged children under the age of four who have previously been denied assistance because of their families’ immigrant status.
Matt Hancock agreed to expand the program’s selection criteria after a team of lawyers filed a lawsuit against the government on behalf of a UK one-year-old and her mother.
The program offers low-income families vouchers worth £ 4.25 per child per week for milk and healthy foods, but as with other UK benefits, it locks out families who do not have permanent UK status.
“This is a great result for some of the most disadvantaged children in our society who should never have been excluded from access to this vital support,” said Olivia Halse, who represents the mother and child at MG & Co.
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“We hope this extension will help tackle health inequalities and child poverty in the UK and give these children a healthy start in life. Today more than ever, the most disadvantaged families need the additional help that the Healthy Start program should offer. “
In February, the High Court agreed with plaintiffs that the rule could indirectly discriminate against black background children and ethnic minorities and violate their human rights.
But before the hearing could take place, the Minister of Health agreed to hold a consultation this winter to make the program available to more families.
As a result, the Healthy Start program will be amended to include all UK children under the age of four whose families would be eligible for government assistance without their immigration status, the lawyer said. The government will also immediately hand over the coupons to the family who filed the lawsuit.
The waiver of public funding means that thousands of households in the UK will be denied basic services due to their immigrant status, which is estimated to be 1.4 million people according to the Joint of Welfare for Immigrants.
The lawyers acted for the one-year-old – identified as child “A” – who is a British citizen and her mother, whose household income is nearly 40 percent below the average income of eligible households. The mother of the child can live and work in the UK but is not entitled to benefits due to her immigrant status.
“While this victory is a step in the right direction, the Public Funding Restriction (NRPF) continues to exclude thousands of disadvantaged immigrant children and families from a range of vital services,” added Halse.
“We hope the government will seriously consider the NRPF conditions and the devastating effects they are having on vulnerable children and families, many of whom are from black and ethnic minorities.”
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs was asked for an opinion.