allpay, a provider of bill payment and card payment solutions, is set to transform the national Healthy Start scheme for the post-Covid UK, confirming a contract with the NHS. The scheme is going to be digitised, based around an online application form and prepaid card, helping disadvantaged families eat healthily by providing the support that is simpler to access, more flexible to use and more cost-effective to deliver.
Healthy Start is a statutory scheme run by the NHS to boost better diets for low-income pregnant women and families with children under four. allpay is to facilitate top-ups to the scheme’s new payment cards, which can be spent on fresh milk, fresh or frozen plain fruit, vegetables and infant formula. Found in all major supermarkets and many local shops and markets, Healthy Start currently supports some 300,000 beneficiaries a year, with digitisation expected to incrementally increase this to around 500,000 beneficiaries a year once the scheme is fully transitioned.
With the contract confirmed, allpay passes the scheme to Marcus Rashford and his food poverty taskforce, formed with brands including Aldi, Tesco and Deliveroo, as well as the charities FareShare and The Food Foundation. A quarter of a million people have now signed Rashford’s petition calling for a major expansion of the free school meals scheme – just days after such an expansion was rejected by the Government.
allpay have previously worked with the Scottish government on a solution to replace its healthy food voucher scheme. Named “Best Start Foods”, the prepaid card programme targeted families with children under three who are eligible for certain income benefits and encouraged the purchase of “healthy” products from retailers free of the requirement to register that came with the voucher scheme – with the card accepted in any grocery store displaying the Mastercard logo.
Unlike the voucher scheme which applied only to registered retailers, the Scottish Government could analyse where and if the funds are being spent, providing improved auditing capability and offering the added advantage of removing the stigma that sticks to vouchers.