Labour vows to boost poor families’ access to fresh fruit and veg under new wellbeing law
Labour would bring in a new law to tackle the “injustice” of poor nutrition among children from lower income families and do more to boost their access to fresh fruit and vegetables, the party has announced.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth will on Saturday commit £26.8 million to the existing ‘Healthy Start’ programme aimed at providing children in the most deprived areas of the country with fresh fruit and vegetables.
And he will set out proposals for a new ‘Future Generations Wellbeing Act’ to prompt government agencies to take the impact of decisions on health inequalities into account.
Speaking at the Fabian Society’s Summer Conference, the Labour frontbencher will say: “Today a baby girl born in Liverpool can expect to live 13 fewer years in good health than a baby girl born in Richmond. It’s an injustice we cannot ignore.
“After nine years of Tory austerity, advances in life expectancy have ground to halt, and even gone backwards in some of the poorest areas. Shamefully, infant mortality rates – children dying before their first birthday – have risen three years in a row for the first time since the Second World War.
"The next Labour government will adopt a comprehensive, cross-government national strategy to tackle health inequalities, attacking the wider determinants of ill health and putting prevention first.”
Mr Ashworth will say the new legislation "will mean local health services, alongside relevant public bodies, will always act to reduce health inequalities and promote overall wellbeing too”.
“It will mean our NHS, as a local ‘economic anchor’ institution in communities, takes account of the social value of every pound spent and takes its obligations to climate change seriously,” he will add.
The number of women and children eligible to receive government ‘Healthy Start’ vouchers to help with the cost of healthy food has fallen by 20 per cent in four years, Labour said.
And the party warned that funding for the welfare payments has been cut by £36.6 million - just over a quarter - since 2012/13.
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