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How Bury is putting money back into people’s pockets

Since the beginning of the local campaign to increase the uptake of Healthy Start, Bury has seen uptake increase by ten per cent, with more people eligible to the scheme now claiming and receiving the weekly payments. This might seem a modest increase but over the course of a year this equates to £16K back into peoples’ pockets at a time of great need, with some of it being spent locally at fruit and veg stalls in Bury Market.

Mayor Cllr Sandra Walmsley with stall holder. Credit: Bury Council

Mayor Cllr Sandra Walmsley with stall holder. Credit: Bury Council

Healthy Start uptake rates in Bury have increased from 62 per cent in January 2023 to 72 per cent in October 2023 (higher than the national average uptake of 70 per cent).

Both Iddon’s and Pete’s Fruit and Veg market stalls have seen an increase in the use of Healthy Start cards. Pete has remarked that those with the cards were more confident in using them as he displays the Healthy Start signage.

With the help of a grant from Sustainable Food Places, Bury Food Partnership has launched a campaign to promote uptake of Healthy Start in January 2023, mainly by promoting the scheme at Bury Market. Several market traders are now accepting Health Start cards in exchange for their produce and advertising and promotion is happening across local parks, high street, GP practices and via relevant networks including Bury Council Cost of Living Support tools and materials, and Bury voluntary, community & faith alliance networks.

The Healthy Start scheme provides beneficiaries with a prepaid card to buy fruit, vegetables and milk. Payments are £4.25 a week for pregnant women and children 1-4 years old and £8.50 for infants under-1.

Key developments with potential to streamline the process of getting entitled people onto the payments include:

  • Bury Department for Work and Pensions embedded Healthy Start into the questions that are asked when carrying out universal credit initial claimant meetings. This is a potentially groundbreaking step forward and is being implemented across all the job centres in Bury to ensure consistency and being promoted to Great Manchester DWP partners.
  • The Bury Registry Office agreed to promote Healthy Start to families when they register births (with printed promotional materials in their office to give out, and as an electronic attachment to their forms and on their electronic screens).
  • The School Meals Service agreed to add Healthy Start info onto their printed menus.

The work is gathering momentum as well as attention from local public health and department of work and pensions teams across Greater Manchester and beyond. Francesca Vale, the food partnership coordinator and project manager has recently made presentations at the Greater Manchester Healthy Start Task Force, and welcomed visitors from local council departments from Manchester, Tameside, Bolton, Bradford, and Leeds, who are now taking the learnings from the campaign to replicate in their places.

If you are working within your local authority to increase public access to affordable, healthy and climate and nature friendly food, then sign up to hear more from our Good Food Local programme.


Published Wednesday 8 November 2023

Good Food Local: Good Food Local supports local authorities to prioritise good food and commit to action on a breadth of food issues.

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