£27m less being spent on free fruit and veg vouchers, figures show

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The amount of money spent on free fruit and vegetable vouchers for the most deprived families has dropped by £27 million over five years, figures show.

In 2010/11, £91 million was spent on the Healthy Start Scheme, which provides weekly vouchers for milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and vitamins for poorer families.

But by 2015/16 the figure fell to £64 million, according to figures released by ministers.

The scheme is means-tested and vouchers are offered to pregnant woman and families with children under four years old. 

The figures, released following a parliamentary question from Labour's Luciana Berger, show in 2011/12 and 2012/13 £90 million was spent each year.

But the amount fell each year thereafter and now stands at £64 million - a 30% reduction compared with 2010/11.

Ms Berger said: "Cuts to the Healthy Start Scheme will harm some of the most vulnerable children in our communities, creating a generation of poorly nourished children and young adults, and storing up greater risks of cancer, obesity, heart disease and other chronic and costly conditions for the NHS to treat.

"There is no better investment in health than supporting healthy eating habits in the young.

"Yet ministers are making cuts in the very places which do the most good.

"I am calling on ministers to think again and restore the healthy eating scheme to full health."