Smartcards to replace food vouchers after overwhelming public backing

Joe Fitzpatrick accused of "conflict of interest"
Joe Fitzpatrick accused of "conflict of interest"
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Smartcards will replace food vouchers after a consultation found strong support for the change to a welfare scheme for low-income families.

The Scottish Government said the paper UK-wide Healthy Start Vouchers would be replaced with pre-paid digital smartcards in Scotland and change name to Best Start Foods from spring next year.

The scheme provides pregnant women and families on low incomes with vouchers to buy affordable nutritious food. The changes follow a Scottish Government consultation where most of the 147 respondents backed the smartcard plans, which they believed would cut stigma. More than 90 per cent said a choice of retailers was critical.

Many of the respondents backed the planned increase in the weekly payment from £3.10 to £4.25 to cover the value of providing fruit, vegetables and milk.

The consultation also found overwhelming support for extending the range of eligible foods in the scheme.

Nine out of ten respondents backed providing free milk and healthy snacks to all children in funded early learning and childcare, while more than three quarters also wanted milk expanded to all children at that stage.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “There is clear and strong backing for our plans to further support families.”