Welfare Foods: consultation

A consultation on the development of a Welfare Foods package.

2. Background to Welfare Foods

Welfare Foods was originally introduced as a wartime measure in the 1940s to ensure an adequate diet during rationing. Benefits were originally universal but have become targeted over the years as the nation's diet improved [1] .

Currently, Welfare Foods are delivered through two schemes:

The Healthy Start Scheme provides vouchers (direct financial support) to pregnant women and families on low incomes to purchase affordable nutritious food; and vitamins, for children and women (during pregnancy and after birth). We have already delivered a separate vitamin scheme (free vitamins for all pregnant women) and this will continue to evolve when the power to make schemes is commenced.

The Nursery Milk Scheme entitles all children under five to receive a drink of fresh semi-skimmed or full fat cow's milk (1/3 pint) on days where they have spent two or more hours in early learning and childcare [2] ( ELC). This includes infant formula for children under the age of one.

The Healthy Start Scheme and Nursery Milk Scheme are currently delivered by the UK Government's Department of Health and Social Care. The Scottish Government does, however, fund Scottish claims to both of these schemes.

The powers over Welfare Foods (for Healthy Start and Nursery Milk) have been devolved to Scotland through provisions in the Scotland Act 2016. These powers have not yet been commenced (brought into force). This consultation is seeking views on how we take forward these powers and is structured as follows:

Section 3 – Phase 1 of Welfare Foods: a new approach for Scotland, Best Start Foods. This section sets out our changes to the UK Healthy Start Vouchers in Scotland and how they will become part of our Best Start Grant system. This is Phase 1 of our Welfare Foods changes, which will come into force in Summer 2019. This section also covers Healthy Start Vitamins.

Section 4 - Phase 2 of Welfare Foods: a new approach for Scotland – milk and under-fives. This section sets out our proposed approach to delivering a universal milk scheme as part of the ELC expansion, which will come into force at the same time as the free meal for all children in funded ELC in 2020. This section also asks how we can deliver milk for children outwith funded ELC provision and considers the introduction of a healthy snack to further improve on our nursery milk offer.


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